Farm lobbyist says she's not concerned about threat of higher dairy prices

Dec 5, 2013

Fears that Congress won’t reach agreement on a new farm bill before the New Year have prompted House Speaker John Boehner to call for extending the old farm bill through January. That’s to avoid the expiration of some dairy subsidies. If those subsidies are allowed to expire on January first, the dairy price support formula would revert to 1949 levels, resulting in sharply higher prices for a gallon of milk.

A lobbyist for the American Farm Bureau Federation says she’s not very worried about the threat of higher dairy prices. Mary Kay Thatcher says that threat to prices is meant to frighten lawmakers into approving a new farm bill by the January 1st deadline.

“It’s not meant to ever go into effect. It’s meant as a sledge hammer to make sure Congress does come back, and does pass a bill, and reviews agricultural policy, food policy --- the whole gamut in the Farm Bill every five years.”

University of Illinois agriculture professor Jonathan Coppess says federal regulators would have to write new rules in order to implement the old dairy price supports, so that any hike in dairy prices would not happen right away. Republicans in the House and Democrats in the Senate have been at odds over a new farm bill, chiefly over proposed cuts to the SNAP food assistance program.