Price hikes in basic food staples are causing huge concern to milk producers and others who rely on dairy to sustain an important part of the national farming economy.
The rises foreshadow expected price hikes in coming months for other food staples, such as meat, says Bruce Jones, a professor of agricultural economy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dairy is affected quickly because cows immediately make less milk.
Temperatures in the 90s and above mean cows give less milk, and sky-high feed prices are making it more expensive to feed them. Add to that the cost dairies must pay for fans and sprinkler systems to keep the animals cool during long hot days and nights.
This year, every state east of the Rockies is enduring its hottest or second-hottest year on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Overall, 28 states are seeing their hottest year since accurate weather records began in 1895.
By August, the cost of a gallon of milk at the supermarket could rise by 10 to 15 cents and by Christmas an additional 25 cents on top of that, says Mary Ledman, chief analyst with the Daily Dairy Report in Libertyville, Ill.
Wholesale cheese prices are at about $1.72 a pound. “I expect the cheese price to get up to $1.95 in November,” says Jerry Dryer, editor of the Dairy & Food Market Analyst in Delray Beach, Fla.
Source: USA TODAY; By Elizabeth Weise