National Drought In 2012 Causes Local High Food Costs In 2014, Experts Say

University of Arkansas Professor Dr. H. L. Goodwin said the drought two years ago is just now having an effect on food prices across the country.

Goodwin has taught agriculture economics for the past 25 years. He said the issue with higher prices for dairy and meat stems from a simple supply and demand issue.

“If you look at beef cattle, pork and chicken altogether, the drought that we had two years ago that spiked feed prices, really had a negative impact,” Goodwin said, “It raised costs tremendously.”

He said grain yields in 2012 were down by almost 60%. Because of this, he said, the costs to feed beef and dairy cattle sky-rocketed, causing the price of their products to go up.

“That’s only now starting to cycle through the system,” Goodwin said, “And it has been for the last 9-12 months.”

Goodwin said the other issue with food prices is Americans are competing with foreign countries to get U.S. dairy and protein products.

“Milk exports to China, Southeast Asia and Latin America are up drastically… China has almost doubled their importation of US milk products,” He said.

He said this is the reason the price of milk is up by 8%. Locals said the high food costs are putting a huge dent in their grocery bill.

“Everything has went up,” Hope Watson, “I’m in Walmart all the time, and everything is just ridiculous…like one week I may go in there, and the chicken may be $6.00, the next week you go in there and you can probably find one for $9.00 and $10.00- it’s ridiculous.”

Laquisha Jenkins is a single mother and said now that her three kids are out of school, her bill at the supermarket has gotten even higher.

“The food bill is just like a utility bill now, with three and four hundred dollars a month,” Jenkins said, “And that’s a must…that’s something you must have, something you cannot go without, and something your kids can’t go without.”

Goodwin said it may take two years for the beef and pork supply to catch up with the demand.

“You’ve got to be judicious with your money,” Goodwin said, “Because the price is not going to go down anytime soon.”

Goodwin said the current drought in California is causing prices of fruits and vegetables to go up, including avocado, nectarines and lettuce. He said the water that would be used for agricultural purposes is being used for homes and businesses.

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