Old  December 22nd, 2012, 8:55am     #1
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agriculture bill and 7.00 a gallon milk
'Dairy cliff': Milk prices may double in New Year
By Steve Hargreaves@CNNMoneyDecember 21, 2012: 4:50 PM ET
http://money.cnn.com/2012/12/21/news...P_LN&hpt=hp_t3
The New Year could push milk prices to $7 a gallon.

With Congress spending all its time trying to avert the fiscal cliff, a slew of other legislative matters are going unattended. One of them is the agriculture bill which, if not addressed, could lead to a doubling of the price of milk early next year.

It works like this: In order to keep dairy farmers in businesses, the government agrees to buy milk and other products if the price gets too low. The current agriculture bill has a formula that means the government steps in if the price of milk were to drop by roughly half from its current national average of about $3.65 a gallon.

Problem is, the current bill expired last summer, and Congress had been unable to agree on a new one. Several protections for farmers have already expired, and several more are set to do so over the next few months. One of them is the dairy subsidy, which expires January 1.

But instead of leaving farmers entirely out in the cold, the law states that if a new bill isn't passed or the current one extended, the formula for calculating the price the government pays for dairy products reverts back to a 1949 statute. Under that formula, the government would be forced to buy milk at twice today's price -- driving up the cost for everyone.

"If you like anything made with milk, you're going to be impacted by the fact that there's no farm bill," U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told CNN's Candy Crowley in an interview on State of the Union airing Sunday, Dec. 30.

"Consumers are going to be a bit shocked when instead of seeing $3.60 a gallon for milk, they see $7 a gallon for milk. And that's going to ripple throughout all of the commodities if this thing goes on for an extended period of time," Vilsack said.

Related: Independent farms rake in millions

Sky-high milk prices wouldn't necessarily be good for dairy farmers either, according to Chris Galen, a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation, which represents over 30,000 dairy farmers.

While it might provide a short term boost to profits, there's a fear that consumers would either cut back on dairy or opt for imported dairy products. It could also force food makers to search for alternatives to dairy, like soy.

"We call it the dairy cliff," Galen said.

Fortunately, there's still time for Congress to act.

Galen said the government would have to issue a notice saying it was going to pay the increased price for dairy products, then set up a schedule for when purchases would start, a process that could take a few weeks.

"It's not like people would dump blocks of cheese on the USDA's front lawn January first," he said.
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  Old  December 23rd, 2012, 6:00pm     #2
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Wow, makes me glad we only drink Coconut/Almond milk.
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  Old  December 31st, 2012, 9:21am     #3
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Quote:
The top leaders in both parties on the House and Senate Agriculture committees have agreed to a one-year extension of the 2008 farm bill that expired in October, a move that could head off a possible doubling of milk prices next month.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., indicated the House could vote on the bill soon, though House leaders have not yet agreed to put the bill on the floor. In addition to the one-year extension that has the backing of the committees, the House GOP is also considering two other extension bills: a one-month extension and an even smaller bill that would merely extend dairy policy that expires Jan. 1.

Expiration of those dairy programs could mean higher prices at the grocery store within a few weeks. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Americans face the prospect of paying $7 for a gallon of milk if the current dairy program lapsed and the government returned to a 1948 formula for calculating milk price supports.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday that Republican leaders had not decided how they would proceed on the farm extension, though a vote could come as soon as Monday. Boehner has pushed back on passage of a new five-year farm bill for months, saying there were not enough votes to bring it to the House floor after the House Agriculture Committee approved it in July. The Senate passed its version of a farm bill in June.
http://www.charter.net/news/read.php...org%3E&ps=1018

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