On January 2, President Barack Obama signed a bill designed to avert the fiscal cliff. At the same time, to slightly less fanfare, he averted the “milk cliff.” By extending the 2008 farm bill another nine months, he prevented the automatic revival of a 1949 law requiring the federal government to buy dairy products under certain circumstances, effectively setting a floor for the price of milk. While the actual fate of milk prices was far from clear, the milk cliff provided cover to continue the practices of subsidizing wealthy farmers, to the detriment of just about everyone else.
In 2012, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) spent $22 billion on subsidy programs for farmers.
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