Congress Gets to Work on Milk Cliff

...But will likely extend unpopular agriculture subsidies in the process

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 28, 2012 2:00 PM CST

(Newser) – Fiscal cliff negotiations may be going nowhere fast, but the House and Senate agriculture committees are poised to temporarily avert another pressing crisis: the milk cliff. The two committees are drafting a short-term extension of as many as 37 expiring agriculture provisions, including one staving off a 1945 law that would force the government to buy milk until the price hit more than $6 a gallon, Politico reports. The bad news? The proposal preserves costly farm subsidies reformers had hoped to kill.

"The hidden winners right now of not passing a farm bill are those who want to keep subsidies going for farmers who don't need it," says Debbie Stabenow, chair of the Senate agriculture panel. One thing she won't extend, however, is current dairy policy. The stop-gap bill includes proposed reforms from the Dairy Security Act, which dairy producers love, but processors—and John Boehner—oppose. "It doesn't make sense to extend dairy policy that doesn't work," Stabenow argues.

This May 16, 2012, file photo, shows dairy cows on the Meyer farm in Chilton, Wis.
This May 16, 2012, file photo, shows dairy cows on the Meyer farm in Chilton, Wis.   (AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger, File)
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