Time to buy the cow! Milk could climb to $7 a gallon
Agricultural bill, if left unaddressed could lead to doubling of milk prices
If an agricultural bill goes unaddressed by lawmakers before the touted "fiscal cliff," the United States could be looking at a new meaning for the phrase "cash cow." A gallon of milk could climb as high as $7 a gallon in 2013, some analysts predict.
If an agricultural bill goes unaddressed by lawmakers before the touted 'fiscal cliff,' the United States could be looking at a new meaning for the phrase 'cash cow.' A gallon of milk could climb as high as $7 a gallon in 2013, some analysts predict.
This bill expired last summer. Since then, Congress has been unable to agree on a new one. Several protections for farmers have already expired. Even more are scheduled to expire over the coming months. One of them is the dairy subsidy, which expires on New Year's Day.
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 agreement, the government would be forced to buy milk at twice today's price - bad news at the grocery store.
"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 late last year.
"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.
Dairy farmers won't necessarily benefit from the new sky-high prices. 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, Chris Galen, a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation says. The group represents over 30,000 dairy farmers.
It could also force food makers to search for alternatives to dairy, like soy. "We call it the dairy cliff," Galen said.
Congress could step in swiftly to act upon this problem.
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. "It's not like people would dump blocks of cheese on the USDA's front lawn January first," he said.
To prevent the price spike, Congress either needs to extend the current bill, pass a new bill, or enact some provision to keep the 1949 law from taking effect.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Milk, milk prices, Congress, market, cows, dairy farmers
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