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Donna L. Montaldo

Devastating Drought Brings Higher Food Prices

By July 17, 2012

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It looks like food prices will be going up again because of the drought that is devastating the Midwestern states.

Thirty percent of the U.S. corn crop was rated in very poor to poor condition on July 8, 2012, according to USDA/NASS. Not since 1988, when half of the U.S. corn crop was rated very poor to poor, have corn conditions been lower in July. The last time at least 30% of the U.S. corn was rated very poor to poor was September 2002.

As a result, the prices on feeding livestock has increased and will ultimately result in higher meat prices and other foods that contain corn (see list) such as cereal. According to the USDA, the impact will be widespread.

Justin Gardner, assistant professor of agribusiness at Middle Tennessee State University told the Christian Science Monitor, that it isn't a matter of if the prices will go up as much as it is when we will see the increase.

Some are projecting that the price increases will be felt as early as this fall. Jeff Born, a Northeastern University finance professor and director of the executive MBA program said in an email to the newspaper, "If you like bacon [and] pork, you should buy it now, because by the fall you are going to be stunned at what it will cost."

The USDA is not as pessimistic about the residual effect of the drought on food prices. According to the article, the USDA figures that "prices rise by 1% for every 50% increase in the price of corn" and attribute energy prices as the real culprit behind rising food prices.

USDA officials are fanning out to rural communities across nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states to show support to farmers and ranchers with disaster assistance programs.

What Can You Do?

It may be a good time to start building your stockpile based on products that you know contain corn.

Food Products Containing Corn:
  • Baking Mixes and Powders
  • Batters for Frying Fish and Chicken
  • Breads
  • Canned Fruits
  • Catsup
  • Cereals
  • Cookies
  • Fritos
  • Frostings
  • Fruit Drinks
  • Graham Crackers
  • Graham Cracker Pie Crusts
  • Gravies
  • Grits
  • Ice Cream
  • Jellies
  • Margarine
  • Peanut Butter
  • Popcorn
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Preserves
  • Puddings
  • Salsa
  • Soups
  • Soybean Milks
  • Syrups
  • Tortillas
  • Vinegar, Distilled
And also alcohol, beer and wine.

Non Food Products Containing Corn:
  • Aspirin
  • Cough Syrups
  • Envelopes
  • Gelatin Capsules
  • Powders
  • Stamps
  • Talcums
  • Toothpaste
  • Vitamins
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