Milk, food prices at stake in farm bill negotiations

Milk, food prices at stake in farm bill negotiations

AMARILLO - Your grocery bill could more than double in the near future if congress can't agree on a new farm bill.

Right now the House and Senate are preparing to start negotiations on a new $500 billion farm bill and if they don't agree by the end of this year, your pocket book could feel the effect.

Like most big decisions lately, congress is divided.

"What is does is it creates uncertainty," economist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Center, Stephen Amosson said.

Amosson says payments to farmers will be cut by about a third whether congress passes the senate plan or the house plan.

"It can effect some planning decisions. Especially if those producers were kind of on the margins to begin with," he said.

But what's even more troubling is if congress fails to make any decision.

When the current farm bill expires at the end of the year, 1930s and 40s era laws will kick in, quadrupling what the government pays producers for milk and other foods products and in turn raising prices at your local super market.

"What that means is you're talking about doubling or tripling milk prices, doubling or tripling wheat support prices, corn prices," Amosson said.

But it's not the funding for farm subsidies that has congress up in arms. It's food stamps, which is 80 percent of the farm bill.

"The biggest argument's over the SNAP payments," Amosson said. "Some republicans are looking for a lot bigger reductions than what the democrats want. It's politics, who knows!"

Parts of the previous farm bill have already expired and others will expire at the end of this month. But the harsh effects to food prices wouldn't happen until the first of the year.