Got Milk? It could cost you twice as much (or more) than a gallon of gas soon


Posted bhy AzBlueMeanie:

Come Dec. 31, the inability of Congress to get anything done could push the country’s milk prices to as much as $6 to $8 per gallon unless Congress passes a farm bill renewing federal support for agriculture programs. A gallon of milk could cost $8 in 2013. Here’s why.

GotMilk?Without legislative action in the next five days, the government will
have to revert to a 1949 dairy price subsidy that requires the
Agriculture Department to buy milk at inflated prices. Much like the
current fiscal cliff, the law was left on the books “as a poison pill to
get Congress to pass a farm bill by scaring lawmakers with the prospect
of higher support prices for milk and other agriculture products,”
Vincent Smith, a Montana State University professor, told the New York Times.

The Farm Bill isn’t technically part of the fiscal cliff. Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio.) has resisted the call by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (D) to incorporate it into the budget
negotiations — to avoid complicating the budget talks and losing GOP
votes, a Boehner aide told Politico last week. Legislators from rural districts are also worried that crop
subsidies could be a tempting target in the fiscal cliff negotiations,
so they’ve been trying to push Congress toward a separate resolution, to
little avail. Although producers would temporarily benefit from the
hike in milk prices, it would hurt processors and consumers, and the
dairy industry would prefer a long-term resolution as well.

The subsidy reversion to a higher rate will cause market instability. Steve Benen explains, GOP obstinacy may force milk price spike:

The most likely scenario would be farmers moving to sell dairy
products to the government at the inflated prices, which in turn would
limit consumer supply and cause huge price spikes on the commercial
market. It's also likely companies that use dairy products would look to
imported milk from overseas.

So, what's the problem? The Senate
version of the farm bill passed with relative ease over the summer, but
House Republicans haven't even brought a competing proposal to the floor
for a vote. GOP leaders haven't made specific demands, but the proposal
Republicans supported in committee included sharp spending cuts
to measures such as nutrition assistance programs, in the hopes of
making millions of low-income Americans ineligible for food stamps.

Democrats hope to force the issue with a discharge petition, but do not
yet have enough GOP support to push the farm bill to the floor, and
time is obviously running out.

If you want your kids to have milk with their cereal in the morning, it's time to call your congress critter and tell him or her to get mooving on this farm subsidy bill. Milk is a major part of the American nutrition program for children.

h/t Evil cows meme | quickmeme.


  1. Thank you, God – I mean AZ Meanie – for a sane and data-based response!!! Like a breath of fresh air!!!

  2. No need for the condescension, AZ BlueMeanie, but I suppose that should be expected, given your “name”.

    Republicans seem to be all about the subsidy, whether it be for oil, corn, milk, etc. I was simply asking what impact this might have on the family farm as opposed to the corporate milk producer. It’s obvious that they care more about hurting seniors, the poor and children; I was simply curious how the expiring subsidy would hurt the free market they seem to idolize as much as they despise seniors, the poor and children.

    I DO understand the importance of nutrition assistance, but there are healthier alternatives to cows’ milk. Perhaps if people were forced to pay the true, free market price of milk, people might actually consider those healthier alternatives. With the decrease in demand for cows’ milk, prices would eventually have to come down if they want to compete, all without the need for a subsidy.

  3. I thought we had a more sophisticated resadership than this. The key to GOP opposition to the farm bill is its desire to cut nutrition assistance programs in the hopes of making millions of low-income Americans ineligible for food stamps, which primarily benefit children.

    Agriculture subsidies are about stable prices for producers and consumers. It is bad public policy to have volatility in food production and prices.

  4. How much do these subsidies help the family farm as opposed to the corporate milk producer? If the milk subsidy (or any farm subsidy, for that matter) mostly benefits corporate farms, I say let the subsidies lapse. Isn’t that what R/TPers want anyway – a free market unhindered by government intervention?

  5. While I certainly enjoy many dairy products I don’t think that the people of America are going to be harmed if the price of milk and dairy products happens to go up. If the price of milk were to spike it certainly would motivate dairy farmers inside and outside of the United States to increase their milk production.

    I hardly believe that free market price of milk in the US is anywhere near $6 per gallon. While reading through Suzy Khimm’s Washington Post article it seems like the figures being thrown around are substantial but given that they are labeled as 10 year figures it really makes me wonder if the powers that be are trying to sell the public on the idea that they are getting real about the fiscal cliff when they are doing anything but.

    The current uncertainty is all the more reason why the government should stop distorting the market so that producers and consumers can rely upon predictable markets without wondering how heavy a thumb the US government is going to apply to the regulated and subsidized marketplace.

  6. There are several alternatives to cows’ milk: almond, hemp, rice, goat, soy, coconut, oat, flaxseed. You can even make your own almond, hemp, flaxseed or rice milk at home; you can find numerous recipes online. Soy, rice & almond milk work best for recipes; goats’ milk is most similar to cows’ milk and can be a suitable substitute for a glass of milk or for you farvorite cereal.

    With a little research, a little experimentation and a little time, there’s no reason one needs to buy cows’ milk when there are already healthier alternatives. If you prefer, most alternatives mentioned above can be bought locally; try Whole Foods, Sprouts or a local health food store.