The looming 'Dairy Cliff:' Milk prices could double

The looming 'Dairy Cliff:' Milk prices could double »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Economists anticipate the price of milk could nearly double as the U.S. now faces the so-called "Dairy cliff" following Congress' inability to pass a new Farm Bill.

"Jeez I couldn't imagine it being almost 8 dollars or something," said Shirena LaClare, a mother of two who lives in Yakima. "That would be too much to provide for my kids."

The Farm Bill provides a safety net for the dairy industry.

Without a new one in place by January 1st, the formula that sets the price of milk could revert back to a law established more than 60 years ago and send milk prices to levels never seen before.

Some economists predict it would jump to 7 bucks a gallon on average in stores.

"When milk prices go up that high, we end up just losing our customer base," said DeVries Family Farm Owner Tom DeVries. "And, in the long run it probably wouldn't be good for our industry."

"As a dairy farmer, are you concerned about the so-called "dairy cliff?" KIMA asked.

"No at this point I'm not, if they don't pass it, we'll just have to make adjustments to learn how to live with what we have." said DeVries.

While farmers we spoke with say they're not too concerned about the so-called "dairy" cliff, shoppers, on the other hand, say the last thing they want to do is dig deeper into their pockets for groceries.

"It's expensive," said LaClare. "It's like five dollars, six dollars for like a pound of cheese. And, it's going up there. The milk is like four dollars, if not even more."

A spokesperson for the USDA told Action News there's hope Congress will take action on the bill soon.

The agency says that would prevent uncertainty for dairy farmers and everyday shoppers.

The Farm Bill also provides support for food assistance programs and disaster relief for a wide range of crops.

Economists predict consumers wouldn't notice prices increases until weeks into the new year.