WASHINGTON – Conferees failed to reach agreement on a farm bill before Congress recessed for Thanksgiving week. With the legislative calendar abbreviated in December, it seemed increasingly unlikely that a compromise farm bill will be adopted by the conference committee, passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama before Jan. 1, 2014. On that date, farm programs would be based on permanent law as established under the 1949 farm act.
The most immediate effect would be resurrecting obsolete dairy programs that would lead to soaring consumer milk prices. It was expected that should Congress not pass a new farm bill before the end of the year, it at the very least would take action to extend the current farm act to provide yet more time to reach a deal and forestall a dairy price shock.