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Peterson not worried about ‘fiscal cliff’

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said Thursday that he is not worried about going over the “fiscal cliff” next month, and said that even dairy prices should not be affected immediately.

“I object to this terminology of ‘going over the cliff,’ “ Peterson said in an interview with AgriTalk, a radio show.

“This is not a cliff because if everything expires, nothing dramatic happens,” Peterson said.

Taxpayers’ witholding “will go up a bit” he explained, but the sequestration cuts don’t go into effect immediately. He also noted that when Congress has not met its deadlines, the problems have been fixed retroactively.

On the farm bill, which expired September 30, Peterson noted that programs affecting crops would not be affected immediately because those programs are based on crop year, not the expiration date of the bill.

Although the Agriculture Department is required to begin implementing a 1949 dairy program on January 1, Peterson noted that some economists have said it should not affect dairy prices until May or June.

Peterson has opposed a farm bill extension unless it includes the dairy stabilization program that is in both the Senate-passed and House Agriculture Committee-passed farm bills.