Drink Water Instead: The Price of Milk Could Go Up to $8

December 28, 2012  |  

They’re calling it the “dairy cliff,” and if we go over it, there are threats of $8 milk.

Along with the much-discussed “fiscal cliff,” which could cause a spike in taxes, January 1 is also the deadline for Congress to deal with a farm bill. Failure to pass this latest legislation could cause prices on dairy products to leap.

According to The Washington Post, the bill also deals with things like foreign relief aid and production issues to do with other food items. But because milk is produced all year round, it’s the most pressing item on the list.

Food costs for consumers could jump because of the outdated pricing laws that would go into effect, some going as far back as 1949, well before modern methods for farm production and sales went into effect. “[I]f Congress does not pass the bill by March, when it’s time for farmers to start planting crops, the antiquated laws could begin to roil production for other products, from peanuts to corn, by applying quotas discarded years ago,” the paper writes.

NPR is betting that the price of milk won’t actually reach this eye-popping $8 price that’s being buzzed about, which would be more than double the national average. “Dramatically higher milk prices won’t help Congress’ reputation for political gridlock. Farmers wouldn’t like it either,” that outlet’s blog says, citing the fact that it would bring unwanted attention to farm policy issues. It would also ultimately reduce demand, as consumers shy away from costly foods in favor of less expensive options. (Issues of food policy go largely unnoticed in this country, but play a big role in determining the American diet. Bestsellers like this and this go into further detail.)

More than anything, it speaks to Congress’ inability to do its job in the harsh and partisan environment that has taken over Washington. Parts of this farm bill actually expired in October. This coupled with the fiscal cliff are two reasons why the legislative bodies’ approval rating hovers around 18 percent.

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