Milk Price Deal Reached: Congress Effectively Averts ‘Milk Cliff,’ Hopefully

The milk price deal has been reached by agriculture committee leaders from both chambers and parties on Sunday.

They have agreed to extend the farm bill for one year in the hopes that the so-called “milk cliff” can be averted, keeping the cost of milk from skyrocketing to $8 a gallon next month.

While the bill has been agreed upon, it may not actually see floor time to gain a vote before Tuesday, because of the current negotiations about the “fiscal cliff,” reports CBS News.

Agriculture committee leaders have warned against another temporary farm bill for the past months, but it appears that they had no choice as negotiations came down to the wire. The agreement is a last-ditch effort to avoid the price of milk skyrocketing after the farm law expired three months ago.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) acknowledged in a statement on Sunday:

“Clearly, it is no longer possible to enact a five-year farm bill in this Congress. Given this reality, the responsible thing to do – and the course of action I have long encouraged if a five-year bill was not possible – is to extend the 2008 legislation for one year. This provides certainty to our producers and critical disaster assistance to those affected by record drought conditions.”

Yahoo! News notes that the bill did more than just extend the current dairy policy by avoiding causing milk prices to rise. The bill will also include an overhaul of dairy programs that were included in bills from both the House and the Senate. There will also be a new voluntary insurance program for dairy producers.

In order to participate in the insurance program, farmers would also have to participate in a market stabilization program, which could help dictate production cuts when oversupply of milk drives prices down. Boehner is not happy with the bill, however. The House Speaker called the current program “Soviet-style.” He believes that the new program would make it even worse.

The Ohio Republican is backed by large food companies who process and use dairy products. The companies claim that the program could potentially limit milk supplies and increase their costs.

Lucas hopes that, despite the criticism the bill is likely to receive, it will pass in the House and the Senate quickly. He stated, “It is not perfect — no compromise ever is — but it is my sincere hope that it will pass the House and Senate and be signed by the president by Jan. 1.”

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