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Dairy Facts 2016

Farm Bill Negotiators Close to Consensus; Assured Milk Prices Won’t Spike

Dec 11, 2013


The House of Representatives today passed a one-month extension of the 2008 Farm Bill by voice vote. Although the Senate will work through next week, it’s unlikely the senators will take up the extension before adjourning for the year. Instead, the leaders of the Farm Bill Conference expect to wrap up their negotiations and pass the new bill in early January, making the extension unnecessary.

December 11, 2013
As of today, it appears that the principal leaders of the Farm Bill Conference are close to reaching a final deal, with plans to wrap up negotiations and pass the bill in early January. Although the House of Representatives may vote on a short extension of the 2008 Farm Bill as a safety measure before adjourning for the year on Friday, Senate Democrats believe the extension won’t be necessary because the administration assured them that there will be no reason for milk prices to spike in January.          

Under the Agricultural Act of 1949, which is suspended until December 31, 2013, the Secretary of Agriculture is required to take actions, most likely by purchasing dairy products at prices well above market rates, to raise farm milk prices to 75 percent to 90percent of parity, currently about $38 per hundredweight. According to a report in today’s Politico, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said the negotiators received assurance yesterday from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that milk prices would not be impacted if a new Farm Bill could be implemented quickly in January.

“It’s my judgment that at least through the end of January we’re not in a spot where dairy prices are affected at all,” Stabenow said.

IDFA agrees that the Secretary has the discretion to delay actions to enforce the 1949 Act.

“No one should be in a hurry to enforce an irresponsible law that would needlessly increase government spending by tens of millions of dollars and would dramatically and artificially increase the costs of nutritious dairy products such as milk and yogurt for consumers,” said Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy. “Because implementation of the 1949 Act will require entirely new regulations, the Secretary of Agriculture enjoys ample legal authority to delay the enforcement of the 1949 act should Congress fail to pass a new farm bill prior to December 31.”

Read the Politico story, “No farm bill in 2013,” here.

For more information, contact Slominski at

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