A different cliff: C.O. milk prices to double?

If farm bill isn't renewed, milk could hit $8 a gallon

POSTED: 7:40 PM PST December 27, 2012 
REDMOND, Ore. -

With much of the nation's attention on the looming fiscal cliff, there's another cliff on the horizon we all almost missed.

It also will affect your wallet -- and maybe the contents of your fridge.

"Any time a customer feels that they are not getting good value for their money, than they start looking other directions," Bob Eberhard, the owner of Eberhard's Dairy Products in Redmond, said Thursday.

Three months ago, the current farm bill expired; it's a piece of legislation that has been renewed about every five years since it first passed in 1933.

The law protects farmers from taking big hits from the fluctuating market. Each month, the government sets a minimum price it will pay farmers for surplus milk.

But if lawmakers don't do something soon, the law will revert back to the formula used in 1949 -- and experts warn the price of milk could double.

Industry analysts say milk prices could begin rising as soon as Jan.  1 -- something Eberhard says won't happen.

"The price we are paying for our milk in January is already set," he said.

As for the prospect of milk prices skyrocketing, Eberhard says he believes it's a bunch of hype.

"What they're talking about is a potential," Eberhard said.  "And I think you have to make sure you use that word potential of $8 a gallon. Personally, I don't think that will happen."

Still, he says, the thought that lawmakers are slacking is annoying. Not only have they not renewed the farm bill, but it hasn't been updated since 1965.

"There's a blue-ribbon committee that the U.S. Department of Agriculture appointed some five years ago to come up with a new formula," he said. They have yet to do that.

"I would like to see our legislators get in and do the job we elected them to do, and that is to have a farm bill -- and we haven't passed one."

So if you're preparing to stock up on milk, Eberhard would probably advise to hold up.

You could say the government is trying to milk the drama until the end.