January 23, 2020

The “Fiscal Cliff;” and the “Dairy Cliff”

Farm Bill, Policy Issues

Sean Lengell reported last week at The Washington Times Online that, “A multiyear farm bill that has stalled in Congress could be part of a solution to avoid the looming ‘fiscal cliff’ — if party leaders decide they need its spending cuts to count toward an overall deficit reduction package.”

The article noted that, “Some agriculture programs, such as crop insurance, have continued under a separate authorization. And funding for the food stamp program was included in a six-month stopgap bill to fund the federal government that Congress passed in September.

But some dairy farmers say they’re already feeling a pinch, as the Department of Agriculture’s Milk Income Loss Contract Program, which compensates dairy producers when domestic milk prices fall below a specified level, expired after Sept. 30.”

More specifically, J.T. Rushing reported on Friday at The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) Online that, “As if the ‘fiscal cliff’ and the long-suffering farm bill weren’t enough, Iowans may soon face a new dilemma — a ‘dairy cliff.’

“If Congress fails to act in the handful of weeks it has left in its lame-duck session before adjourning for Christmas recess, the nation’s dairy programs for farmers will expire Jan. 1.

“The effects won’t be limited to the dairy industry — retail prices for all sorts of dairy-related products could soar. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has predicted the price of milk could rise to $6 a gallon, just as almost all Americans’ income taxes are scheduled to increase.”