Milk prices hinge on Washington lawmakers - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Milk prices hinge on Washington lawmakers

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If lawmakers fail to renew a certain bill by the end of the year, the price of milk could double.

The federal Farm Bill regulates how milk, among other products, is priced.

State Agricultural Commissioner Gus Douglass said if this happens, the price of milk could jump to almost $8.

If legislators fail to renew the bill, which expired in October, the formula used to price milk reverts back to a 1949 statute that claims the government must buy milk from farmers at nearly twice today's price.

He also said such a change would directly impact both farmers and consumers in the Mountain State, a place with an already shrinking supply of dairy.

"In West Virginia, we have only 150 dairy farms, and we've been losing dairy farms galore," Douglass said.

The commissioner said when he took office in 1964, more than 400 dairy farms operated throughout the state.

The average American drinks 22 gallons of milk per year, according to the International Dairy Federation. If costs leap to $8 per gallon, one person could pay $176 per year for milk.

Shoppers at the Bigley Foodland Fresh on Charleston's West Side said the potential for high prices angers them, but fails to discourage them from buying milk in the future.

"There's no alternative to milk," said Bill Mearns, of Charleston. "You can't put beer in your cereal. "

"I don't think that's possible that they should do something like that to people who have children," said Patsy King, of Charleston. King said she expects her two grandchildren to drink at least three gallons of milk while they stay with her for the holidays.

"It's ridiculous. I don't know how people's gonna afford it," said Bonnie Oscha, who was also buying milk for her granddaughters. "People has a hard enough time now."

But Oscha said she'll continue to buy milk, regardless of cost, because she values the health of her family.

"That's my grandbabies," she said. "I gotta do what I gotta do."