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What going over the 'dairy cliff' would mean for local farmers

By ANNA MEILER

ORISKANY, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Milk prices could double if Congress doesn't rally together and pass a new Farm Bill and while higher prices might sound like a good thing for farmers, that's not the case.

If the Farm Bill expires on Jan. 1 the U.S. will revert to the 1949 law, putting an old pricing scale into effect that could put a gallon of milk at $7 or $8. Milk has been getting all the attention, but really you could see a jump in most dairy products, which could mean bad business for farmers.

Processors that use milk to make cheese, yogurt and other dairy products may outsource overseas and the local farm bureau says it's a given customers would stop purchasing as much milk.

Many local dairy farmers also dealt with damage from flooding over the summer. If the current bill expires, there will be no money earmarked for disaster recovery, handing another blow to farmers.

The vice president of the Oneida County Farm Bureau said if Congress can't cut a deal some farmers may choose to retire, which could have a devastating trickle down effect on the area.

"This area is dwindling now every day anyhow as far as farmers. There's getting fewer small family farms and more, bigger commercialized, so-to-speak farms. That drives away people, it's going to hurt businesses, local restaurants and all of that," said Steven Adams, vice president, Oneida County Farm Bureau.

The country faced this problem a year ago, but Congress was able to pass an extension. That extension ended in September, so farmers are in a stand-still right now waiting on Washington to see if a bill passes before they take any business risks or make changes to their farms going forward.

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