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Dairy Farmers Talk About Extended Farm Bill

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The fiscal cliff has a lot of people talking Wednesday, and that includes South Dakota milk producers. The ‘Dairy Cliff,’ may have been avoided in a last minute extension of the farm bill in order to keep milk prices down. But some dairy farmers are warning the quick fix could hurt them in the long run.

 "I'm disappointed, you know we have lawmakers there to do a job,” said Doug Ode, a dairy farmer from Brandon.  

Ode said congress should have worked together to pass a new bill, instead of just extending the 2008 farm bill.  

“Just delaying it another whole year isn’t good for us. It’s going to be the same dilemma a year from now,” said Ode.

And it’s a dilemma he said farmers shouldn’t have to worry about. Ode said they’ve already been battling a drought stricken season and high feed prices.

“There was a time in the summer when our feed price jumped 25 percent,” said Ode.

He believes now feed prices will keep rising with no disaster relief funding to help farmers who didn’t yield enough to make ends meet. Ode explained that disaster relief funding is one part of the farm bill that wasn’t extended.

However with the extension comes a positive note, milk prices stay the same.

 As of Wednesday Ode said he gets paid around $21 per 100 pounds of milk. And he said if the farm bill wouldn’t have been extended that would have risen to $38 per 100 pounds of milk. And he said that in no way would have been a good thing.

"It'd be very scary. How many consumers would keep purchasing dairy products,” asked Ode.

If milk would have doubled to the estimated $7 per gallon, Ode said he may be getting more money, but people would stop buying.

“You got a huge supply but the cost is high. And milk is shipped daily. It cant sit here forever, it has to be consumed or processed,” said Ode.

And he said milk just sitting and going to waste isn’t good for anyone.

“The farmer where the milk comes from, we have to be the ones that have to make it. Our bottom line has to show we are making a profit,” Ode said.

And it is much needed income as farmers wait to see what the next year yields.

Another part of the farm bill that was not included when it was extended was subsidy payments. Farmers receive such payments when milk prices fall below a specified amount.
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