MINOT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Maine's dairy farmers are watching the fiscal cliff debate closely for another reason. The version of the legislation passed by the U.S. Senate early Wednesday morning included an extension of the 2008 Farm Bill. The move was designed to avert what's being called "The Dairy Cliff," a sharp spike in the price of milk because of the bill's expiration.
Now that the fiscal cliff bill is in jeopardy in the house, that temporary fix to the dairy situation also is in jeopardy.
As of January 1, federal milk prices are being set based on an antiquated 1948 formula. And U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has warned prices could rise to between 6 and 8 dollars a gallon if Congress doesn't act quickly. The Maine Dairy Industry Association says the increase should not be that great, but that prices would certainly rise within the next couple of weeks.
Farmers say they are incredibly frustrated that disagreements over tax policy and food stamps are getting in the way of their livelihoods. John Hemond, a farmer in Minot said, "If the farmer worked like Congress, the cattle would be dead by the time we made a decision!"