Lawmakers Warn: Cost of Milk Could Double

By Forrest Saunders, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The cost of a gallon of milk could soon soar. Some lawmakers are threatening if the Farm Bill expires at the end of the month, consumers will start feeling it during trips to the supermarket.

Connie Hupp is a mother of three and said her family goes through at least four gallons of milk each week.

"A lot of milk. I should have a cow," said Hupp.

Well, maybe she should. Democrat's on the House Agriculture Committee are trying to stir up support for the Farm Bill, warning without it a law from the 40's kicks in that would nearly double milk prices by the start of next year. Currently, gallons have been going for about $3.50, meaning prices could hit $7.

"That would be extremely frustrating," said Hupp.

And extremely expensive for people who said milk is a necessity in their homes.

"I wouldn't be happy about it. I'm not happy about gas prices, but I still pay them. You got to get there," said consumer, David Koch.

Milk drinkers wouldn't be the only ones paying more. According to economists the price of other dairy products would increase too.

"Cheeses, yogurts, a lot of ice creams, things such as that. Any sort of dairy product would definitely be impacted," said Iowa State Economics Professor Chad E. Hart.

That spells trouble for businesses that depend on dairy to make their money, like bakers.

"I would need to reevaluate all my food costs. And that could also possibly create problems with quality and my product outcome," said Baker Joanie McGann.

The battle over the Farm Bill comes down to how much money Republicans and Democrats are willing to spend on nutrition programs, like food stamps. The Senate approved a half-trillion dollar Farm Bill with funding for food stamps and farm and conservation programs. House Republicans though are asking for a $40 billion cut to the bill.

The current Farm Bill is scheduled to lapse on October 1st. But economists said Congress has a few months after that to act, citing last year's battle over the bill that ended with an extension signed on January 1st of 2013.

Officials with milk marketing cooperative Dairy Farmers of America are confident lawmakers will act again, before it's too late. Vice President of Industry and Legislative Affairs Jackie Klippenstein said in a statement: "With Congress back in session there are clearly many important issues to tackle. We remain optimistic that Congress will bring this bill to finalization and end the long wait for vital dairy policy reform."
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