Heat wave, drought may cause higher food costs

Scorching temperatures and a terrible drought have prompted the government to project higher food prices for next year.

So how closely is southeastern Kentucky mirroring the national pattern?

"It's not doom and gloom," said Perry County Extension Agent Charles May. "It's definitely a bad situation, but we'll get through this."

The dry conditions have wiped out crops across the country, especially corn, which is a staple of processed foods.

"When you have a shortage of anything in terms of market price and demand is roughly staying about the same, when supply decreases you will definitely see that there is going to be an increase in price in the market," said Kevin Lambert, an economics instructor at SEKCTC's Whitesburg campus.

But in the short term, grocery shoppers in Southeastern Kentucky have been largely unaffected.

"We've been pretty fortunate in this county," May said. Where I live in the southeast portion of the county, I never stopped mowing my yard and my little garden that I've got. I've had a bumper crop."

Prices are still expected to jump, especially with beef, which is low right now because many cattle farmers have slaughtered early to avoid the high cost of feed.

But as soon as this glut of beef gets off the market, maybe later this year or early next year, you're going to see a lot less beef being available to slaughter the next time around and prices will definitely start going up on beef," Lambert said.

Begging the question - how long can southeastern Kentucky grocery shoppers dodge the price bullet?

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