Milk Prices Could Double Without Farm Bill

In the unlikely event that the farm bill is not renewed at the end of the year, milk prices across the country could double as outdated federal farm legislation from the 1940s goes into effect in 2013.

With Congress having adjourned to focus on the 2012 election, the federal farm bill, despite the best efforts of farm advocacy groups and lobbyists, is a dead issue until the end of November at the earliest. Congressional gridlock managed to kill the bill as GOP leaders in the House refused to bring the farm bill to a floor vote.

With the current bill set to expire on Monday, farmers across the country are facing potential stoppages in vital farm programs. While crop insurance and food stamps are funded until 2013, roughly 25 percent of farm programs and subsidies might lose their funding.

Among those programs that are all but certain to lose their funding for 2012 are subsidies for dairy farmers. The dairy industry as a whole has taken a beating over the last several years, and increasing fuel and feed costs have only further destabilized the industry.

The imposition of 1940s farm legislation, however, would mandate massive federal milk purchases, potentially leading to a doubling of milk prices. This, on top of already expected food price increases caused by drought-related damaged, could hammer consumers, further damaging the economy and exacerbating the economic downturn.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer