Farm bills always include a provision suspending the implementation of “permanent law.”

Without that provision, complex and antiquated, 60-year-old policies — including those that could eventually double the current $3.60-plus price of a gallon of milk — would come back into force.

Now, just days away from year’s end and with a new farm bill — or even an extension of the 2008 farm bill — tied up in the “fiscal cliff” budget debates in Washington, D.C., the inability of the major legislative players to strike a deal looms large.

And the forecasts of a happy resolution have significantly dimmed following the Dec. 20 refusal of a 30- to 40-member Republican House contingent to get behind Speaker John Boehner’s proposal to only increase taxes on incomes over $1 million.

At that point, realizing the futility of trying to further whip the votes for his plan, Boehner reportedly cited the Serenity prayer and sent the Republican caucus home for Christmas.

(For complete farm bill coverage, click here).

So, with Congress expected to be back in session on Dec. 27, where does farm law now stand?

I think (Obama) has clearly moved his original ask from raising taxes on Americans who make $250,000, or more, up to $400,000 a year,” says Chandler Goule, National Farmers Union vice-president of Government Relations. Speaker Boehner reacted with his plan and there simply wasn’t enough support within his own party.”

Goule believes there will be no “fiscal cliff” bill. “That won’t be because the (Obama) administration hasn’t been doing its job trying to negotiate. It’ll be because there are now two Republican parties. We’re now in a quasi three party system and the country doesn’t know how to function.

“When the Republican leadership can’t even move its own agenda when it comes to revenue assurance for the country, for fiscal stability, it’s very concerning. … The House remains dysfunctional.”

One thing that’s obvious, he says: We’re not going to get a farm bill this year “without some type of fiscal cliff bill to attach the agriculture legislation to.”

Fred Clark has grown wary of reading the tea leaves. “Who knows where things will go?” says the legislative lawyer with Cornerstone Government Affairs. “It’s difficult to guess. I don’t think anyone in Washington knows what’s going to happen with anything.