We could soon be paying $6 a gallon. Not for gas--for milk!
1200 WOAI's Michael Board reports Texas cattle raisers are warning that a federal law which has set milk prices artificially low for decades may expire. And if the dysfunctional Congress, which can't seem to agree that January First is New Years Day because doing so might give the other party an advantage can't get its act together, a law from the 1940s will kick in.
"It's really sad that most of the issues that are holding up the farm bill are about nutrition, not about farm programs," said Darren Turley, who heads the Texas Association of Dairymen.
The milk price support program is included in the Farm Bell, which has been delayed because conservatives are making food stamps a major issue. Some want food stamp programs reduced or turned over to the states. Others want the food stamp program eliminated entirely.
Turley says Congress may vote within the coming week, and he points out that consumers were in the exact same position one year ago, as Congress then bickered over a farm bill.
"We don't foresee that happening and we hate that we are in this situation," he said. "We would love to have had a farm bill passed."
Another issue which is holding up the farm bill is farm subsidies. Conservatives claim that a large chunk of the subsidies go to wealthy city dwellers who operate so called 'hobby farms' that they seldom visit. But, because many of those wealthy city dwellers are also campaign contributors, the subsidies continue.
"It used to be that most of the farm bill was about farm programs," he said. "But now much of it is about nutrition and we are at the mercy of that nutrition debate."
The $6 a gallon is based on inflation clauses in a 1940s era program which was superseded by subsequent farm bills. But that program would reappear if there is no farm bill to supersede it.