Beginning in January, milk prices across the country could more than double, assuming that Congress fails to pass a new farm bill by the beginning of the year.
For the past several months, Congress has refused to take action on the farm bill. While the Senate passed a version of the vital farm legislation and the House Agriculture Committee passed a farm bill draft, House leadership has been content to stall the bill, delaying action until after it expired in September, and refusing to add it to the calendar until after the 2012 election.
With Congress focused on the fiscal cliff, however, the likelihood of a new farm bill being passed appears slim.
The reason for the milk price increase can be found in the expiration of the current farm bill and the last permanent farm legislation signed into law (back in 1949). That legislation guaranteed milk prices at a much higher rate than is the current norm, meaning that farmers would make more money selling milk to the government, creating a shortage that could raise prices to $8 a gallon.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has promised to do what he can to ameliorate the situation, stating, “We obviously are looking back in history to limited periods of time to consider … how to improve upon it if it can be improved upon.”
The best solution, according to Vilsack, would be to pass a new five-year farm bill that addresses milk prices.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer