The lame duck session of Congress has officially begun, and the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee is still waiting to hear what’s next with the Farm Bill.

“I am still hopeful that (House leaders) want to get this off their plate by the end of the year,” U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) told AgriTalk radio on Thursday.

“If they are going to dillydally around and not get this thing done, I am ready for permanent law and I am ready for $38 milk (on) Jan. 1,” he added.

If a new Farm Bill isn’t passed by Jan. 1, permanent law dating back to the 1940s takes effect. That, in turn, would deliver parity and raise dairy price supports to $38 per hundredweight or more.

At one point in the interview, Peterson commented that if dairy farmers, especially the ones in California, get three to four months of $38 milk, it might save them from the financial difficulties they have been experiencing this year. 

Peterson wants the full House to vote on a new Farm Bill. He is adamantly against extending the current Farm Bill.

One of the reasons against extending the current bill, he says, is that dairy farmers need to have the Dairy Security Act enacted as soon as possible.  

Current dairy policy doesn’t work, he said. “We have dairy farmers in significant trouble, especially in the West. And we can’t afford to wait another year. We’re going to lose too many dairy farmers if we wait another year without getting this Dairy Security Act in place.”

Provisions of the Dairy Security Act were included in versions of the Farm Bill passed earlier this year by the U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committee. Those provisions include margin protection insurance to help protect dairy producers from unfavorable swings in feed prices relative to milk prices,

To listen to more of Peterson’s interview with AgriTalk, click on the audio bar at the top of this article.