Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson is pushing a proposal that would double the price of milk if the Republican-controlled House fails to pass a farm bill by Oct. 1.
Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, doesn't really want milk prices to skyrocket, according to The Hill
. But he recommended this week to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that he should do exactly that by implementing the 1949 dairy price support law to manipulate an increase in milk prices.
The move, he said, could help force a deal on a farm bill.
"Clearly [a farm bill] is not going to get done by Oct. 1, so my suggestion to the secretary is that they should start now putting the framework together to implement the permanent law on dairy Jan. 1," Peterson said. "And it sounds to me like they're going to take a very serious look at that."
The 1949 price support law, which was designed to give farmers a parity level of income, allows the Agriculture Department to in effect control the prices by purchasing milk products. But the support prices have been set by Congress since 1981 by short-term reauthorizations of the farm bill.
But without reauthorization of the farm bill this year, that task would fall to the government under the guidelines set by the 1949 law. As a result, the price of milk would go for about $39 per 100 pounds, which would nearly double the current costs to consumers.
Peterson believes, however, that the threat of the law's implementation would prod industry groups, especially the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), into pressuring House Republican leaders to get a farm bill passed.
"IDFA is really going to hate this," Peterson told The Hill. "And once Vilsack's calling them and setting up the mechanism to get $39 milk, IDFA's going to call [House Speaker John] Boehner. So, it might actually work."
The Senate passed a farm bill in June, but GOP House leaders refused to bring it up for a vote, declaring that the $4.1 billion in food stamp reductions contained in the measure weren't sufficient enough to satisfy conservative Republicans.
House Republicans created two bills of their own instead, one dealing with farm policy and another calling for $40 billion in food stamp reductions.
Neither bill is expected to get through the Senate, even if they pass the House.
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