Food Prices in 2013 See Impact From Last Drought

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COLUMBIA - Food prices will experience an inflation of three to four percent in the 2013 Consumer Price Index, according to research by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The Consumer Price Index has slightly increased a total of 1.1 percent since 2012. The drought has impacted prices for field crops like corn and soybeans, which would cause commodity price changes. The USDA predicts most of the impact will occur this year.

"For some families, you know, if you are struggling from month to month, that could have an impact definitely on you. But it's not a huge growth in cause, so it's not naturally gonna be devastating to most families surviving fairly well right now," said Bob Garino, the USDA statistician in Missouri.

Garino said the food production this year would be a main factor for price fluctuation. The worst-hit field crop is corn, which dropped by half of its annual production. Soybeans saw a decrease of 25 percent last year in production.

"Because of last year, our supply is lower, and prices moved up. They are still not fairly high because we don't know what price is gonna come in next year. That supply is dependent on what kind of crop we decide to plant next year," Garino said.

Farmers depend on the weather for their production. Many medium and small-sized farms don't have irrigation systems and suffered more from the drought last year.

"We just didn't have the irrigation to go with our corn, we ended up not getting any sweet corn just because we couldn't get the water to that," said Rhonda Borgmeyer, a 30-acre farm owner.

"Last year we basically have no irrigation stuff, I did buy some stuff to irrigate with last year, but it was only about half as much as what I needed," said Roger Sullivan an eight-acre farm owner. "We are going to gear up to be ready to irrigate more this year."

Though the drought conditions are improving, they are not gone. Garino said there are still drought conditions covering about two-thirds of the region in Missouri.

"As you move west, it's worse," said Garino. "If you start in the southeast of the state, it's pretty good conditions now, but if you move westward and northward, it dries out progressively."