(Image source: Wikimedia Commons)


BY STEVEN SPARKMAN
ANCHOR ZACH TOOMBS


Congress has a lot on its plate this last week of the year, like dealing with taxes, government spending, and milk. What, you haven’t heard? The “milk cliff” is apparently a thing now.

The New York Times reports if Congress fails to pass a new farm bill by the end of the year, a 1949 farm law will go into effect that pushes the price of milk and other dairy products out of reach for many families.


“Essentially the government would be forced to buy milk at double the average cost. That could push the price for a gallon of milk to over seven bucks.” (Video via CNN)


With the government buying milk at such a high price, farmers will sell to the government instead of consumers, causing shortages and sending prices at the grocery store sky high. (Video via WFLA)


It’s all thanks to a familiar phenomenon in Washington: a budgetary impasse.


The existing farm bill expired in September, and both parties saw the replacement bill as a good place to trim the budget. The Senate passed a bill in June that cut $23 billion over 10 years.


Around $4.5 billion of those savings comes from cutting the food stamps program. But the Times reported earlier this month, the bill stalled in the House.


“...because of disagreements among Republicans about whether the program cuts are deep enough, the bill never made it to the floor for a vote. A group of conservatives is holding out for almost double the proposed cuts to food stamps.”


Farming groups say the high prices for dairy would be nice in the short term, but ultimately cause people to buy less milk and damage the industry as a whole.


The CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation hopes the prospect of a “dairy cliff” will get Congress’s attention.


“A much higher milk price support level in the short-term is the threat of dramatic change that is needed to force Congress's hand. Otherwise, there is no impetus for completing work on the farm bill...”


But an economist writing for Drovers sees even less hope of avoiding the dairy cliff than he sees for the fiscal cliff.


“Some had hoped that the new farm bill would be rolled into any agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff, but that now looks unlikely. House Speaker Boehner says he can’t include the farm bill in any package because he would probably lose more Republican votes.”


There was a meeting Wednesday between House and Senate agriculture committee members to discuss the issue. But if TIME’s one-word quote of Democratic rep Collin Peterson is anything to go by, don’t get your hopes up.


“When he emerged from the meeting, a gaggle of reporters swarmed Peterson to ask what Congress was doing to prevent milk prices from doubling. His response: ‘Nothing.’”

 

'Milk Cliff' Could Mean $7 per Gallon Milk in 2013

by Steven Sparkman
0
Transcript
Dec 22, 2012

'Milk Cliff' Could Mean $7 per Gallon Milk in 2013

(Image source: Wikimedia Commons)


BY STEVEN SPARKMAN
ANCHOR ZACH TOOMBS


Congress has a lot on its plate this last week of the year, like dealing with taxes, government spending, and milk. What, you haven’t heard? The “milk cliff” is apparently a thing now.

The New York Times reports if Congress fails to pass a new farm bill by the end of the year, a 1949 farm law will go into effect that pushes the price of milk and other dairy products out of reach for many families.


“Essentially the government would be forced to buy milk at double the average cost. That could push the price for a gallon of milk to over seven bucks.” (Video via CNN)


With the government buying milk at such a high price, farmers will sell to the government instead of consumers, causing shortages and sending prices at the grocery store sky high. (Video via WFLA)


It’s all thanks to a familiar phenomenon in Washington: a budgetary impasse.


The existing farm bill expired in September, and both parties saw the replacement bill as a good place to trim the budget. The Senate passed a bill in June that cut $23 billion over 10 years.


Around $4.5 billion of those savings comes from cutting the food stamps program. But the Times reported earlier this month, the bill stalled in the House.


“...because of disagreements among Republicans about whether the program cuts are deep enough, the bill never made it to the floor for a vote. A group of conservatives is holding out for almost double the proposed cuts to food stamps.”


Farming groups say the high prices for dairy would be nice in the short term, but ultimately cause people to buy less milk and damage the industry as a whole.


The CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation hopes the prospect of a “dairy cliff” will get Congress’s attention.


“A much higher milk price support level in the short-term is the threat of dramatic change that is needed to force Congress's hand. Otherwise, there is no impetus for completing work on the farm bill...”


But an economist writing for Drovers sees even less hope of avoiding the dairy cliff than he sees for the fiscal cliff.


“Some had hoped that the new farm bill would be rolled into any agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff, but that now looks unlikely. House Speaker Boehner says he can’t include the farm bill in any package because he would probably lose more Republican votes.”


There was a meeting Wednesday between House and Senate agriculture committee members to discuss the issue. But if TIME’s one-word quote of Democratic rep Collin Peterson is anything to go by, don’t get your hopes up.


“When he emerged from the meeting, a gaggle of reporters swarmed Peterson to ask what Congress was doing to prevent milk prices from doubling. His response: ‘Nothing.’”

 

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