Way Available to Delay Invoking Permanent Legislation if Farm Bill Talks Need More Time

December 14, 2012 01:57 AM
 
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via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Use of 'charter act' could delay big boost for dairy prices while USDA issues proposed rule for comments


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.


There is more wiggle room than most expect relative to agriculture's version of the fiscal cliff if farm bill negotiators fail to reach an agreement on a new farm bill by year's end.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday said if there is no farm bill accord, dairy policy reverts to a 1949 law that in time would significantly boost milk prices as USDA would pay producers $38.54 per hundredweight compared to a market now running near $16.22. The result could be a doubling in consumer prices for milk.

I will do what the law requires me to do,” Vilsack said at a brief press conference Thursday following a meeting on drought relief. “It’s fair to say milk prices will increase, and that’s an unfortunate circumstance … Consumers shouldn’t have to have higher milk costs because Congress can’t get its work done. This can be worked out. There has to be a little give, there has to be a little take … It’s just obviously going at a pace that needs to pick up.”

But what Vilsack did not talk about: there is a way for him to delay actual implementation of those lofty dairy support levels. The last time there was the "fiscal cliff" issue with farm programs, a Republican-led USDA was ready to use the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act to keep dairy support prices at current levels and then issue a proposed rule seeking comments on implementing the 1949-prescribed support levels. That could be done again.




NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.


 


 

 

 

 

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