Milk Prices Could Rise If Farm Bill Isn't Extended - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Milk Prices Could Rise If Farm Bill Isn't Extended

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by Chris Conte

COLLEGE GROVE, Tenn. - Milk prices could soon sky rocket if politicians in Washington, D.C. can't quickly come to an agreement over the Farm Bill which directly impacts how much dairy farmers get for the milk they sell.

"We don't know how to plan for long term, as far as crops and our products that we produce," explains Charles Hatcher, a fourth generation dairy farmer at Hatcher Family Dairy in College Grove.

Congress has until the end of the year to extend the Farm Bill, which would avert the expiration of dairy subsidies on Jan. 1 If those subsidies expire, new laws will kick in that could revert back to 1949 standard when producing milk was a much more labor intensive process, meaning farmers like Hatcher would get paid more but in the end it would end up costing consumers almost double.

"People would think that's what we want, but we don't want that because people would go away from buying milk. If the cost of gallon of milk reverts to the 1949 law, I've heard anywhere from $15 to $20 dollars a gallon," he added.

House Speaker John Boehner said the farm bill should be extended through January while negotiators work out differences on cuts to food stamps and how to restructure farm subsidies.

Negotiators are working against a New Year's deadline for expiration of some dairy subsidies. If those subsidies expire, new laws will kick in that could result in higher prices for a gallon of milk.

Boehner said Thursday he hasn't "seen any real progress" on the farm bill. That's in contrast to comments from House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, who said Wednesday that negotiators have made "great progress."

Cuts to the $80 billion a year food stamp program are a major sticking point in talks.

"We'll just keep trucking along, that's all we can do and hope for," Hatcher said.


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