Saturday, December 21, 2013

Why The Dairy Cliff Won't Materialize

Because it would be a stupid pain in the ass:
U.S. farm law is set by a 1949 act that includes hefty price supports for dairy farmers. Those supports were once needed because dairy prices often weren’t high enough to cover the costs of production. The law directs the federal government to buy milk, butter and cheese, artificially inflating prices to prop up farmers.
But the “permanent law” is superseded by the farm bills Congress is supposed to pass roughly every five years. Not surprisingly, the current Congress has had some trouble reaching an agreement this time around, and the farm bill is now ridiculously late. A one-year extension at the end of last year wasn’t enough, and congressional leaders have said the bill will be taken up in January. Theoretically, that means a reversion to the “permanent law,” which would force the Department of Agriculture to start buying dairy products at (perhaps) about double their current prices on January 1. Hence the headlines warning that a gallon of milk is about to shoot up to anywhere between $6 and $9 a gallon, depending on which account you believe. There were even more scary “dairy cliff” headlines last year, before the extension was passed. We weren’t any close to the edge then than we are now.
Like the debt ceiling, the “permanent law” carries the “threat that it’s such a goofy law that Congress will pass a new one and rewrite the rules and not go back to the old rules,” Kent Olson, a University of Minnesota Extension economist, told Minnpost.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, though, has said that he won’t implement “permanent law” as long as Congress continues debating the farm bill in January, which they will be doing. And even if we were to go over the dairy cliff, Vilsack has any number of options for stalling price supports. It’s not like the federal government can suddenly just start buying (and storing) vast amounts of dairy products.
The Farm Bill is one of the better examples that Congress is full of clowns.  They've had forever to bang out a farm bill, and they are still unable to get anything done.  And the kicker is that the reactionary morons from rural areas in the House decided to hack the food stamps out of the bill, which was the only reason the Congressmen representing areas with sustainable population densities had any interest in passing a Farm Bill.  What a bunch of asshats.

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