DENVER (CBS4) – The focus on the fiscal cliff deadlock has lawmakers apparently ignoring a critical farm bill, and that means there will be a big jump in dairy prices — a so called “milk cliff.”

Consumers are used to looking at prices around $3.60 on average for a gallon of milk, but it could go as high as $8 if the farm bill isn’t passed.

“We go through a gallon of milk in like four days. Doubling, that would not be a good thing,” consumer Sara Ris said.

If Congress chooses not to renew the farm bill by Jan. 1 the milk price formula reverts to levels set in 1949. Experts say dairy prices would skyrocket to $6 to $8 for a gallon of milk.

“I think it’ll be quite high. I mean high enough to change people’s behavior, that’s for sure,” said Michael Joseph.

Joseph is founder and CEO of

“We have thousands of members that get home delivery all over Colorado where they would start changing their minds, I think, about consumption of how much dairy products, not just milk, they take into account,” he said.

Joseph said the sticker shock could even lead to sickening consequences.

“You’d see a whole bunch of dairy prices go up and potentially some producers start importing milk that isn’t subject to the same regulations,” he said.

Consumers are crossing their fingers that Congress will make the time for a vote.

“They all need to be fired, and if we want to continue to eat, the bill needs to be passed. That’s where we get our food, people,” consumer Linda Vella said.

But even the agriculture secretary concedes that passage by the end of the year is unlikely.

Joseph said he doesn’t think it will come to that. He said he believes something will be done to mitigate, as he says, dairy chaos.



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