Midwestern flooding could affect cost of food

Published 10:13 am Thursday, June 19, 2008

The recent flooding that has ravaged the Midwest will affect food and gasoline prices all over the country. Contract prices for corn bushels are predicted to become more than $8 as early as July 2009.

Corn production was at a record high last year with about 93.6 million acres, and farmers planned to reduce the number of acres this year to 86 million. This was all before the rains and flooding wiped out approximately three million acres of corn fields.

Deputy commissioner Ronnie Murphy of the Alabama Agricultural Department said there has not been sufficient time to look at damages made in the Midwest to determine how much gas or food prices will increase.

“Certainly, if 10 to 15 percent of corn did not get planted, prices will increase [for fuel, food and feed],” Murphy said.

“While there are many concerns over potential losses, I do not think there have been any estimates yet of the economic impact of the flooding on specific crops or other states,” Mary Maher of the USDA’s Economic Research Service said via e-mail on the recent flooding crisis.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto expressed the government’s concerns over the Midwest floods in a press briefing Tuesday.

“It’s absolutely a concern,” he said. “It will certainly cause disruptions in terms of food supply coming from that region.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have reportedly closed off 300 miles of the Mississippi River to agricultural ships on Monday according to The New York Times.

Without a bumper crop of corn this year, prices of gasoline and food are expected to continue to rise.