Don’t believe the hype. There is no milk cliff. Yes, after the new year, permanent farm law from 1949 (and 1938) will take effect, but the possible doubling of milk prices that is being predicted is hogwash. Don’t get hornswoggled by USDA Secretary Vilsack, who is really just pushing for a five-year farm bill. Here’s what House Agriculture Committee Chairman Lucas –hardly a farm bill opponent – told the Tulsa World:
"We are exploring all options to prevent the 1949 farm bill from taking effect, especially as it relates to dairy policy," Lucas said. "In any event, implementation of permanent law will take a considerable amount of time, and to that end, I call on (Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack) to carefully consider all relevant factors and to take public comment through a rulemaking process before proceeding."
If Treasury Secretary Geithner has a bag of tricks to avoid the debt ceiling for a couple months, surely Secretary Vilsack can slow walk to the “dairy cliff.” Passing a trillion dollar, five year farm bill to avoid the so-called dairy cliff would be letting the dairy subsidy tail wag the farm bill cow. This can easily be dealt with in a short-term extension in the new year.