America’s Breadbasket has become quite crispy as the drought is spreading across the Midwest leaving wilted crops in its wake, struggling to survive. Cattle ranchers are slaughtering their stock, unable to afford the hay and grain necessary to feed them. Perhaps you’ve seen it on the news; but- are you aware of how this is going to directly affect you and your family?
Here’s what you can expect from this drought- beef and pork prices will temporarily drop as ranchers are forced to slaughter their livestock due to the inability to feed/water them. This drop will be quite short lived. If you have the means to stock up, I highly suggest you do so!
The effect on the grocery bill will be rather severe as more than 85-88% of corn and soybean crops nationwide are experiencing massive drought conditions. All products containing corn & corn syrup will likely increase by the first of the new year. This includes products like soda/pop, cereal, chips, salad dressings prepackaged snack foods. It has been said that corn is in more than 75% of all manufactured products, including biodegradable packaging!
Dairy Prices which includes milk and cheese products will also increase for 2 reasons, first- the feed prices will be increasing significantly as farmers are forced to have hay and feed shipped in from other states. Secondly, the increase in heat causes a decrease in dairy production; generally a 20-30% decrease in production past 90 degrees.
Corn is a primary feed for livestock and poultry, which means that you can also expect a sharp increase in the cost of beef, pork and chicken. In addition, you can expect a rise in pet food costs as well. Corn is also used in 40% of gas production in the USA (ethanol)- so as a consumer, you can expect to see gas prices increase again as well.
If you live in one of the drought stricken areas you may see a significant increase in your electric bill. The plants that are generating electricity use water for cooling. Without the proper levels of water these plants are forced to reduce their output, causing electricity shortages and increased rates.
So What Can you Expect Long Term?
Unfortunately, the effects of the drought will likely be felt in your wallet long after it finally lifts, you can expect high grocery stores prices for 3 years for beef and at least a year and a half for pork. Although the prices are reasonable at the moment, they will SOAR through the roof by the first of the New Year and continue rising. By the beginning of 2014, Beef prices will reach record Industry highs, making it unaffordable for many families.
There’s little doubt that prices are on the rise but you might be wondering how you can counteract them.1. If you haven’t already, switch to generic brands.
2. Cut out Junk Food- corn syrup is in a high number of products including cereal, peanut butter, soda/pop- aside from the fact that they offer very little nutritional value, they’re going to continue to be a major drain on the grocery budget
3. If you have a freezer, stock up while the prices are reasonable; While this is a temporary solution to an ongoing problem, it will give you the opportunity to be “choosy” about the sales and grocery budget. Keep in mind that you must repackage the meat prior to freezing. We recommend using a vacuum sealer as you can store meats up to 18 months and still have them taste as fresh as the day they were packaged.
4. Make your own Mixes & Convenience foods to avoid fillers (such as corn syrup solids) as well as the outrageous expense
5. Contact your local butcher to see if you can purchase 1/2 a beef critter
What we’re doing1. Filling the freezers with beef, pork & poultry
2. Stocking up on Flour (Wheat & White)
3. Planting additional veggies (Tomatoes, Lettuce, Cucumbers)
How to Predict Sharp Increases in Prices:
Paying attention to current weather conditions and patterns, Earthquakes, Tornadic activity, etc can save you hundreds of dollars long term. Train yourself to stock up on ingredients or foods that may be affected by these storms. For example, Last year Plant City Florida (one of the largest producers of strawberries) had an unseasonably cold freezing spell. Seeing this on the news, I sent my husband to purchase a case of strawberries for .99 a lb to make jam, dried strawberries and for freezing. Within 48 hours, the freeze occurred, the prices in our area jumped to a whopping $3.49 a pound.
Watching for similar conditions in California (for Citrus Orchards, Berries, Grapes, etc) can yield the same results.
Alternatively, when there is sudden panic such as Mad Cow disease or Bird Flu, prices on those meats tend to drop drastically for short periods of time due to unfounded mass panic usually. Since these diseases can be avoided by simply COOKING the food properly, it might be a benefit to your family to stock up. When the bird flu Panic hit, chicken prices dropped to .69 a pound here, I vacuum sealed 100lbs.
We’d love to hear your suggestions, concerns and hear how you are coping with the drought in your area!
© Can Stock Photo Inc. / EEI_Tony