"Dairy cliff" likely averted by last-minute compromise - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

"Dairy cliff" likely averted by last-minute compromise

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Amarillo, TX -- As the clock ticked down to 2013, Washington reached a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff," and American farmers couldn't be happier.

The Farm Bill was one of many current pieces of legislation set to expire at midnight tonight, but lawmakers agreed on a one-year extension of the current bill, along with the federal subsidies attached to it.

And that means dairy prices will most likely stay put for at least the next twelve months.

The dairy industry has relied heavily on government subsidies for the last 64 years, which allow producers to keep prices low. For example, if the current subsidies were to expire, the price of a gallon of milk would likely reach seven dollars or more.

The extension also includes major changes to the dairy industry, like voluntary insurance and market stabilization programs.

Industry experts say extensions like these have been standard operating procedure for decades, and this year's extension was fully expected.

The most divisive issue in the farm bill is the supplemental nutrition assistance program, the funding mechanism for food stamps. The program costs about $400 billion a year, 80 percent of the bill's total budget.

The bill also provides another $5 billion in crop subsidies, which some say are unjustified when crop prices are at near-record levels.

If you'd like to delve deeper into the issue yourself, you'll find a few more perspectives at the links attached to this story.