Are Idaho dairy farmers concerned about the looming 'milk cliff?"
Jennifer Auh talks to Idaho dairy farmers about the looming 'Milk Cliff.' Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
While President Obama said he is 'modestly optimistic' about avoiding the fiscal cliff on Friday, that's not the only problem lawmakers have on their hands.
With the current farm bill set to expire, the ‘milk cliff’ is also looming. According to some analysts, milk prices could jump dramatically in 2013.
Idaho dairy farmers produce more milk products than almost any state in the country, just behind California and Wisconsin.
If lawmakers in Washington don't pass a farm bill by December 31st, some predict a gallon of milk will cost a whopping $6 to 8.
However, many farmers in Idaho remain skeptical that will really happen. "A lot of people are concerned with the renewal of the farm bill,” said Rudi DeWinkle, Mooriah Dairy, “What we think will happen is Congress will extend current farm bill, and nothing will significantly change."
Many local residents are also optimistic that lawmakers will come to an agreement on the farm bill. At the same time, they're still concerned about it taking so long.
If the bill doesn't go through, a law from the 1940's will force the government to buy milk, which could drive up the prices for consumers.
However, DeWinkle said only a small portion of the dairy products will be affected, so not all dairy prices will go up, even if we do go over the so-called milk cliff.
"Milk is classified into four classes, the government would only buy class four, which is less than 10 percent of the milk in the country," he said.
The farm bill would cost about $35 billion. Right now, the National Milk Producers Federation is pushing for a new 5-year bill rather than an extension, since that would only be a short-term fix.
Although Idaho is known as the potato state, statistics show our state actually makes more money from the sale of dairy products, rather than potatoes.
Considering the amount of dollars the dairy industry brings in, local farmers said it's critical the dairy industry stays strong to keep our state's economy afloat.