In an interview done earlier this week, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack warned American consumers that food prices would likely increase next year, potentially by as much as 13 percent.
The increased food prices are largely the result of an ongoing drought currently affecting 18 states across the country (with an epicenter located in the Midwestern Corn Belt). Below average rainfall combined with record high temperatures is withering crops and preventing corn kernels from forming, ruining hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of investments for many farmers.
Added to this climatological catastrophe is an increasing demand for ethanol, which diverts corn crops away from the food supply and into biofuels production. With a lower overall supply of corn (which is found in countless food products and is a major animal feed), food prices are expected to increase next year, adding more pressure to an already weak economy.
While Vilsack’s interview did address the upcoming price hike, he offered Americans some good news. The price increase, Vilsack said, should not happen until next year, offering some hope that the economy could improve before prices go up. “The prices and the impact of a drought will probably not likely be seen in the grocery aisle until later next year in 2013,” Vilsack said on CNN’s State of the Union. Vilsack also condemned businesses using the drought as an excuse to price gouge.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer