The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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December 31, 2012

Deal on farm bill could prevent spike in milk prices

WASHINGTON - The leaders in both parties on the House and Senate Agriculture committees have agreed to a one-year extension of the 2008 farm bill that expired in October, a move that could head off a possible doubling of milk prices next month.

But House leaders have yet to say whether they will allow a vote on it.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., announced Sunday that they had agreed on a last-minute extension that would extend the farm bill and replace dairy programs that expire at midnight Tuesday. Expiration of those dairy programs could mean higher milk prices at the grocery store within just a few weeks.

But the House GOP has yet to endorse the committees' extension agreement, and leaders are also considering two narrower extension bills: a one-month extension and an even smaller bill that would merely extend dairy policy. As of Sunday night, Republican leaders had not scheduled a vote on any of them.

The farm bill talks come as negotiators are still at an impasse on averting a broader fiscal cliff combination of higher taxes and spending cuts Jan. 1. Farm leaders had originally hoped to wrap the larger bill in a fiscal cliff deal.

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