Milk Prices Could Skyrocket If Congress Does Not Act


UPDATED: Monday December 31, 2012 8:09 AM

At Weiland's Gourmet Market in Clintonville, milk is currently $3.69 a gallon.

That price could skyrocket to seven or eight dollars at the beginning of the year, according to some experts.

The reason goes all the way back to the days of President Harry Truman. That's when Congress passed a farm bill that requires the government to buy dairy products from farmers to make sure they make a profit.

Congress usually just passes a temporary override to keep the 1949 law from taking effect. But this time, it hasn't been able to agree on a fix.

“Congress is sort of failing to act with everything right now,” said Emily Oquendo.

Oquendo said if Congress takes the country over the "Milk Cliff", it will hurt her family.

“We would probably reduce our milk consumption. We would probably still buy the one for the girls, but my husband and I  would definitely not drink it as much,” she said.

The owner of the store she shops at said it will hurt the country.

“To me, it would be worse than gas prices going up,” said Jennifer Williams.

At the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, the president said a milk price spike would make it harder to fill his shelves.

“People on fixed income are not going to be able to afford it. So we will see a huge impact in people looking to us for milk, we are also going to see a price increase of milk that we acquire. So it's going to have a huge impact,” said Matt Habash.

Not everyone agrees it could happen right away.

Ohio State University dairy professor Cameron Thraen said there's no way milk prices would change right away because farmers no longer sell dairy that meets the government's 1940s era standards.

“You couldn't sell the current product to the government, they wouldn't buy it because it wouldn't meet their specifications,” said Thraen.

Thraen said it would take time for dairy producers to change operations to produce the sort of the products that the government would buy under the program. And it would take some time for the Secretary of Agriculture to get the bureaucracy in place to restart the program.

By then, it is highly possible Congress will have taken action.

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