Drought and your grocery bill

July 30, 2012

1) It has been a HOT dry summer for a good portion of the nation. How bad is it for us in Illinois?
Illinois has been hit hard, but not as bad in overall crop damage as Indiana and Missouri. Yet, as July has gone by, about all of the Midwest has incurred significant crop damage. It has all happened very quickly. As of 6 weeks ago, things didn't look that bad, but the relentless drought has taken a huge toll.

2) How is this impacting farmer's? Are local farmer's doing well with some crops?
All farmers have been affected, but some have been able to minimize the damage by irrigating their crops. Not all farmers can do that. The equipment is expensive. Some farmers don't have access to the water supply they might need. Most years here we simply wouldn't need irrigation. It ususally rains. But you can find some locally-grown sweet corn (corn-on-the-cob) at farms in McHenry and Lake Counties. Callthe farm you may have visited in the past. Some have the corn and they need the customers.

3) We keep hearing that some produce prices may be going up, is this real? How soon would we notice that happening IF it does happen?
The most prominent impact on consumer food prices will be for beef, and actually there could be a near-term dip in retail beef prices as cattlemen sell off the herd in the face of short feed supplies, due to drought. By late fall, the beef price in the supermarket will climb and keep on going. We will likely have record high retail beef prices in 2013, 2014 and maybe 2015. The corn and soybeans used as livestock feed are also key components in hundreds of other food items we buy. So, this will put upward pressure on everything from cornflakes to cooking oil to margarine. In terms of dairy products, milk cows don't give as much milk in this heat. With their production falling, milk and dairy products will get more expensive too.

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