Widespread flooding could lead to higher food prices


June 10th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

An Iowa Farm Bureau expert says the continued flooding is eventually going to impact all of us in the pocketbook. I-F-B director of research and commodity services, Dave Miller, says lots of crop acres have already been covered in water. He says the Dakotas and eastern cornbelt in Ohio and Pennsylvania have seen at one-and-a-half million acres in corn that hasn’t been planted, and that number could rise with the June 30th acreage report.

Miller says at least 100-thousand acres of Iowa farmland will be impacted by the Missouri River flooding and another 50-thousand could be indirectly impacted. The loss of acres cuts the supply of corn and beans and increases their price. Miller says the corn price increases eventually lead to higher food prices.

Miller says the speed of the increases depend on how close the food product is to the actual corn. He says for example the increase will probably show up fairly quickly in corn tortillas and other ingredient type products. The impact on pork and beef prices takes a little longer.

Miller says that because the initial response is for producers to liquidate some of their breeding herd and there is then more meat on the market. But he says six to nine months from now we’re likely to see higher pork, beef and egg and poultry prices as they use corn as a major feedstock. Miller says prepared foods tend to be slower to rise.

Miller says price increases in fast food and “white table cloth” restaurants take longer to develop, but he says once the prices go up, they don’t usually come down very fast, even if commodity prices fall. Miller says there is a chance things could change — but it’s more likely to get worse than better.

Miller says this crop has a long way to go, and most of the potential is for things that could lower the overall yield and reduced crop yield and higher prices. Miller says there’s a strong potential for a drought later in the year, which would add another negative to what’s already happened.

(Dar Danielson/Radio Iowa)