The U.S. Braces itself for a "Dairy Cliff"


You've heard of the "Fiscal Cliff," but what about the Dairy Cliff? If Congress is not able to pass a new farm bill before the end of the year, consumers could see the price of dairy products sky-rocket. The leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees met this week to work out the differences between their opposing farm bills. WAND's agriculture expert, Stu Ellis, says if they don't reach a happy medium by the end of the year, dairy prices could double or triple.

"Milk prices.. from what they are now to about $7."

Why? Because the nation's farm policy would have to revert to what's called permanent law. That would be the Farm Bill of 1949.

"When they pass a new farm bill, the old legislation is suspended," said Ellis.

The dairy industry in the 40s was smaller, so it received bigger subsidies from the federal government. If the U.S. has to go back to that policy, the government will have to buy and sell dairy at double the price. Finance expert, Kevin Kerr, says that could begin January 1st.

"Now, here we are again at that deadline that will expire January 1st, and could drive milk prices much much higher."

Ellis says the price of milk isn't the only thing that would go up.

"Potatoes.. apples would be going up about 2 and a half times in price. Oranges would go up about one and a half times. Meats, beef, pork, eggs would go up about 2 times.. twice the price."

There's one other way to avoid the "Dairy Cliff." Congress can vote to extend the deadline into January.

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