Skyrocketing milk prices a concern for consumers

NORWICH – Although the dairy industry already faces the negative impacts of the lack of a Farm Bill, the price of milk could potentially double beginning in January, hitting closer to home for dairy consumers.

Although favored in the agricultural industry and backed by many state legislators, the national Farm Bill, first enacted in 2008, was left to expire in September after it was passed in the Senate but held up in the House of Representatives. Most devastating to farmers was the loss of the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) that compensated dairy farmers for lost income when national milk prices dropped below a certain dollar amount.

The loss of this safety net means that on Jan. 1, the federal government, by law, will revert to a 1940s era agriculture policy that requires government to purchase dairy products at prices well above market rate to keep dairy farms afloat, which could lead consumer milk prices to rise as high as $6 per gallon.

The occurrence, dubbed the “dairy cliff” by NY Senator Charles Schumer, has already had negative implications on the dairy industry. Now, consumers could feel the pinch at the grocery store, said Schumer. “The ‘dairy cliff’ is fast approaching, and without a House Farm Bill before year’s end, it will be consumers and dairy producers alike that go over the edge,” said Schumer in a written statement. “All the leaders of the House of Representatives must do is put the bipartisan Senate Farm Bill on the floor for a vote, and I’m sure that it will pass.”

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