As Congress Focuses on Fiscal Cliff, Milk Producers Warn of a Dairy Cliff

As Congress tries to find a way to avoid the fiscal cliff - farm groups are asking that they also provide a new farm bill. While many farmers are still covered by crop insurance and other programs until next planting season - the expiration of the 2008 Farm Bill left dairy farmers without a safety net in place if milk prices fall. With the price of feed soaring - many feel they're facing their own cliff. Dairy farmers are price takers - not price makers. A minimum price for milk is set by the federal government - but that price hasn't been keeping pace with increased prices for feed or energy. The Milk Income Loss Contract program helped - paying farmers when the milk price dropped too low or feed prices went too high. Chris Galen with National Milk Producers Federation says the new farm bill includes a voluntary insurance program that would replace MILC. He says it would be better for dairy farms of all sizes. He adds that without a new farm bill - or an extension of the old one - we will revert to a 1949 law that would almost double the price of milk. Experts say customers could pay six to eight-dollars for a gallon of milk.

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