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Drought conditions forcing food prices to increase



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SALT LAKE CITY — The extreme heat this summer has added up to be one of the most expensive summers for farmers. And while farmers have been struggling for months, the impact of the drought is starting to hit the consumer.

Along the Wasatch Front, food costs have increased for the second month in a row. And consumers of cereal, corn chips, milk and more are starting to notice the increased food costs.

Nationally, dairy products are expected to increase by six percent, while beef products will increase between 5 to 10 percent. Anything made from corn and soybeans could increase by more than 10 percent.

"I don't like it, but there's nothing the farmers can do," said Illinois resident Eric Pense. "It looks like they're going to lose half their crops. It's not about being more expensive, it's about there being less of everything."


I don't like it, but there's nothing the farmers can do. It looks like they're going to lose half their crops. It's not about being more expensive, it's about there being less of everything.

–Eric Pense


Randy Shumway, CEO of Cicero Group, said the monthly consumer price index from Zions Bank finds the drought is impacting Utah food prices. However, the drop in gasoline prices is the one wild card that could offset the increase in prices.

"Even though the drought may be affecting the prices upward, lowering gas prices are affecting prices downward in a greater percentage," Shumway said.

Nevertheless, Utah farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Hay prices are up and there's much less irrigation water to go around. Some counties like Duchesne and Daggett are expected to run out of irrigation water within a month.

"So far, things aren't terrible, but if we don't get some more moisture, it's not going to be all that good," said John Hilton, director of the Utah field office of the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

As the drought continues, there will be more and more pressure on irrigation and water that's stored in reservoirs.

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John Daley

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