AG Watch

Midwest drought could impact Valley food prices

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A drought gripping much of the nation is already costing Valley farmers, and experts say you'll feel the pain soon at the grocery store checkout line.

The government is calling it the most widespread drought since 1956.

More than half of the continental United States is in some stage of drought, and most of the rest of the country is enduring abnormally dry conditions.

Now people across the nation are bracing for the fallout from devastated corn crops, and it could impact our food prices.

The Midwest supplies more than 70 percent of the nation's corn , the number one product in animal diets. As a result, feed prices are already on the rise and our groceries are expected to be next.

From the fields in the Midwest to feed stores in Fresno County - feed products at Western Farm Supply are already up 30 percent from last month and still rising.

"Over the last week we've already seen it going up a cent per pound, in just whole corn and cracked corn. Just raw product at this point," Vicki Rasmussen of Western Feed Supply said.

The rising costs make farmers the first to feel the effects of the Midwest drought, and as they pay more to feed their livestock you'll soon pay more at the grocery store.

"It's going to turn around and cause beef prices to go up, dairy products, pork, poultry, they're all going to go up, because the cost of feeding those animals are going to go up," Rasmussen said.

Experts believe consumers could see their grocery prices rise six percent by fall. Total crop losses in the Midwest remain unknown.

Earlier this year, farmers prepared for a record harvest. Instead they've seen their crops dry up in front of their eyes.

The effects of the drought aren't limited to our food products. The cost of dog food could also go up - and even hay.

"Things from alfalfa, oat hay, three way grain, it's all going to go up because they're going to be feeding more of that to take care of the lack of corn they're going to have," Rasmussen said.

For now Valley farmers are feeling it first, sharing the pain of their colleagues to the east.

Action News also spoke to a representative from California Dairies Incorporated. He says the Midwest drought could be enough to devastate the California dairy industry, which has already been battling increased feed costs, in some cases, putting dairies out of business.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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ag report, dairy, farm, hay, ag watch, amanda perez
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