The Dairy Cliff: The Economic Significance of Permanent Agricultural Law in America

By Rebecca Deubler. Stanford University. 

Recent focus on the fiscal cliff has overshadowed a less publicized but highly significant development that will occur on October 1 if Congress fails to act. Specifically, American agricultural policy will return to permanent law when the current, temporary farm bill extension expires. This is expected to increase prices between 40% and 100% for many basic commodities, add billions of dollars to annual food costs for consumers, and require tens of billions of dollars in additional federal expenditure. This threat is a result of decades of temporary farm bills, the most recent of which expired on September 30, 2012 and was renewed by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 before the farm commodity supports specified by permanent law took hold.

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