Manchester, N.Y. --- The nation’s Farm Bill, typically reviewed every five to seven years, expired Sunday night and Sen. Charles Schumer (D – New York) warns that consumers could pay the price.
"Within in a few short weeks and months the price this commodity will double,” Sen. Schumer said Sunday while holding a half-gallon of milk in his hand. “Cheese will double, it will cost middle class families and all families a fortune, and it will hurt our economy rather significantly."
The Associated Press cites predictions of $6-per-gallon milk prices in part because an important subsidy (Milk Income Loss Contract = MILC) would be lost and government purchases of products would revert back to 1940’s practices that will spike prices.
"$6 milk? No Way," George Mueller of Willow Bend Farms and a member of the Upstate Niagara Cooperative said Monday. “Chuck Schumer is a politician and he happens to be a darn good one and he knows how to get headlines…and we are good at what we do and that is make milk and make it as good a quality and as reasonable a price as we know how."
Sen. Schumer is calling on House Republicans to pass the same bi-partisan Farm Bill that passed the U.S. Senate with 64 votes in July.
Mueller agrees with Sen. Schumer’s assertion that politics is getting in the way of new legislation but he’s not one to panic either. He believes legislation will be taken up after Election Day in a lame duck session of Congress and that most dairy farms will survive until then.
While smaller dairy farms may feel the most pain, rising grain prices and other market factors are likely to have a greater impact on dairy prices according to Mueller.
He also points out, that most stores sell milk and some other dairy prices far below the price the store pays for that milk because it is used as a draw to get customers in the door. He calls it “loss liters” and many large grocery stores chains admit to the practices.
"In fact a good farmer friend of mine, the President of our Co-op, said the other day that the price got so low at the retailer that he could buy the milk in the jugs put it in his tank and sell it to the Co-op and make money," Mueller laughed.