COLUMBIA - The 2008 farm bill expired last September, but Congress passed an extension for the bill Tuesday as part of the "fiscal cliff" package. Farm bills typically expire every five years. If the extension hadn't passed and no action was taken, there was a possibility milk prices would double because dairy subsidies would revert to 1949 levels.
The extension also keeps subsidies already in place, direct payments, and crop insurance. However, these things are only guaranteed until the end of the year rather than the next five.
"It makes it very difficult to plan. When people are trying to make investment decisions, make planning decisions it's tough to know when you don't know what the policies are going to be," MU Food Agriculture and Policy Research Institute Director Pat Westhoff said.
With a new Congress in place, the bill will have to be redrafted for next year.
"Many dairy farmers are not happy with this agreement. They had been very much hoping for a change in policy," Westhoff said.