Small dairy farmers in the Northeast and Wisconsin say a tough year has been made worse by Congress' failure to pass a new farm bill before the old one expired.

While many farm programs have continued through the harvest season even though the farm bill expired Sept. 30, a program that pays dairy farmers when milk prices plummet has ended.

Many dairy farms were already struggling with low milk prices and high fuel and feed costs as the worst drought in decades dried up grazing land and pushed up the price of hay and feed. Dozens in states like California, the nation's leading milk producer, have filed for bankruptcy.

In Vermont, which saw more closings this year after gradually losing farms for decades, the end of the milk income loss contract, or MILC, program, which paid dairy farmers when milk prices fell below a certain level, has created another wave of panic.

For more, see: Dairy farm safety net dies with farm bill