Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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December 13, 2012

Milk prices could double

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — If the U.S. House of Representatives doesn’t pass a new Farm Bill by Dec. 31, milk prices in the stores could hit about $7 a gallon, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said Wednesday.

In a conference call, Schumer urged the House to pass the bipartisan Senate Farm Bill in order to avoid “the dairy cliff,” which would hurt consumers and farmers alike. The increased cost would rattle the marketplace, creating uncertainty for dairy farmers and hurt product demand, the senator said.

On average, a gallon of milk costs about $3.59 locally. That would double, as other dairy products would increase in price, Schumer said.

”There’s no use crying over spilled milk, but with prices like that, it’ll cause some to weep,” he said.

Without the bill, dairy law from 1949 kicks in, which would require the government to buy nonfat dry milk, cheese and butter at prices much higher than current market rates. That would raise the price of dairy products, increasing the cost for consumers.

“As we approach the final days to get the 2012 Farm Bill passed, the anxiety is growing for farmers who have already had the safety net pulled out from under them with the loss of the MILC program,” said New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton. “It’s a price few consumers would be willing or capable of paying, potentially upsetting the delicate supply and demand of milk.”

“Schools are in an incredibly fragile fiscal condition right now and they cannot afford either higher dairy prices or further injury to their rural tax base,” said Timothy G. Kremer, executive director of the New York State School Boards Association. “Our students need accessible dairy products for good nutrition, and our schools need a stable local tax base to provide adequate funding for educational programs and services.”

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