Two/thirds of the United States is now under severe drought conditions, and the consequences will be far-reaching.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts that this record drought will cause food prices to go up by 3 to 4 percent in 2013. These figures are the first acknowledgement by the government that the drought will cause problems, but farmers and economists have been warning for a while that food prices will rise.
Richard Volpe, an economist for the USDA, said that the drought is not expected to affect prices for fruits and vegetable since those crops are irrigated.
Corn and soybean fields however, have shriveled in the heat, which in turn will cause meat prices to soar. Beef prices are expected to see the biggest increase in price at 4 to 5 percent.
The projected price increase is significant enough that consumers will certainly notice. Chris G. Christopher, senior principal economist at IHS, a consulting firm, told The New York Times, “It is one extra kick in the stomach for low-income families,” he said. There’s a lot of people in this country living paycheck to paycheck. This is not a good thing for them.”
Corn, for example, usually goes for about $5 a bushel, according to world-grain.com. Recently the price has shot to a record of more than $8 a bushel, and experts say it could climb to $9.
The drought has affected 88% of the corn crop. Farmers have even started slaughtering their cattle because they cannot keep up with the expense of feeding them, as corn is a large part of their diet.
Why do the majority of cows eat corn? Farmers began feeding their cows corn during World War II because they were producing more corn than the population could consume, according to Karen Eisenbraun of healthytheory.com. Up until recently, corn-fed cows meant cheaper meat for the consumer and more profit for the beef industry.
Eisenbraun argues that not only are cows not meant to eat corn, but it produces “nutritionally inferior” meat because of the health risks that accompany a corn-fed cow. They are “more prone to serious health conditions such as bloat, diarrhea, ulcers, liver disease, and a weakened immune system.”
She suggests looking for grass-fed meat at your local grocery store or health food store. Grass-fed cows produce meat with higher levels of vitamin E and less saturated fat.
Grass-fed meat, while historically more expensive, may offer a more competitive price with corn prices now on the rise.
Milk, eggs, poultry, pork and cooking oil are also all expected to show a significant price increase as well due to the drought conditions.
Drought’s impact on food prices
Ranchers and farmers are going to desperate measures to the battle the drought of 2012. Anna Werner reports on what will happen to food prices.
Drought begins to affect food prices
Farmers continue to struggle, and some people are concerned now that the drought could change the dynamic at the dinner table.
The drought is causing a big increase in food prices.
You will soon feel the pinch in your pocket all thanks to the drought.