Congress Avoids Jump Over 'Dairy Cliff' But Long-Term Solution Still Needed

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It looks like the so-called "dairy cliff" has been avoided ... for now.

U.S. House and Senate leaders are backing a short-term extension of a farm law that lapsed Sept. 30.

"We need to take positive action, put this issue to rest, and make sure that it is clear to everybody in this country that the farm bill policy has certainty and that we will not have $8 or $9 milk," said GOP Rep. Frank Lucas, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

The proposal would extend current law, which also includes disaster aid for farmers and producers affected by 2012's drought. It will also reduce mandatory outlays by $30 million through fiscal year 2022.

If the farm law had lapsed, the nation would have reverted to a policy crafted when Harry Truman was president. Under those rules, the government would buy supplies of a product until its price reached parity with its costs. Adjusted for more than a half-century of inflation, the milk-support price today would be $39.08 per hundred pounds, more than double current dairy futures.

But under a newly revised dairy plan, the government would manage the milk supply by setting milk production limits for farmers who enroll in a market stabilization program

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