Local News

Rising prices for food begin at the farm

Posted April 28, 2008
Updated April 29, 2008

The average family spends three times more on food than gasoline. That's why economists say escalating food costs – the fastest rise in 17 years – could present a greater problem for the economy.

In the past year, the cost of eggs has increased nearly 35 percent; milk 13 percent; cheese 12.5 percent. Beef costs are up 3 percent and poultry prices are up 5 percent.

Economists say demand in the global market is outpacing supply. And that is having an impact on local farmers and shoppers.

Bob Nutter, a fifth-generation dairy farmer who operate Maple View Farm in Orange County, blames all the costs that go into making milk for the escalating costs. That includes corn, the essential ingredient used to feed cattle. The price is up more than 200 percent in two years, in large part, because corn is now being used to make ethanol for gas.

"To me, I think it's one of the biggest mistakes the United States has ever done – when you start taking food and start putting it into fuel," he said.

Higher gasoline prices also make it more costly to operate farming equipment and to deliver milk.

Nutter also says the price of fertilizer has more than doubled in the past few years.

"For the grass, for the corn, for everything we grow – malt, barley and wheat – it all has to have fertilizer," he said.

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  • bobbythreesticks Apr 29, 2008

    Don't be so quick to blame ethanol production and farmers growing corn for this product for food price spikes. "Oil" is needed to produce fertilizer. "Oil" is needed to get the oil to the fertilizer plants. "Oil" is needed to transport the fertilizer to the farms. "Oil" is needed to tend and harvest the crops. "Oil" is needed to get the harvested crops to market. "Oil" is needed for consumers to buy the crops. If ethanol, or other subsitute, was successful OIL prices would have to decrease as they did in the early 80's when OPEC was afraid of the commitment to an alternative fuel source. Before 2004, farms were regulated on the amount of tobacco they could produce. Now they are not regulated after the buyout and most have doubled their production, or have gotten back into tobacco production. This land probably was used for corn and/or grains, now it is used for tobacco. Seems to me, "Oil" is the problem and the demand us American's have for it. Find another horse to kick.

  • Sidekick Apr 29, 2008

    If a farmer grows it, it has a price support, except for tobacco (that's a good thing). I work in the cotton industry and the gov't has insured a price for every bale of cotton ginned in the US. All you need is a pair of coveralls and a tractor and you can get gov't price guarantees. Even if the price goes down on a bale of cotton to zero, the gov't still pays it's guaranteed price. And most cotton growers have abandoned cotton to grow corn. Why not, corn has increased by a hugh percentage. But it is not going for food. It is being earmarked for ethanol. One of the most costly fuels to make. If all the ethanol money was applied to oil and gas, we'd see a gallon back down to a 'reasonable' price.

  • TheAdmiral Apr 28, 2008

    I think it is funny that people in Cary believe that food is manufactured and sold at the store.

    Wake up. Everything you buy at the store comes from the earth; or has ate things from the earth; and then is served on your plates.

    You don't understand this - then you should donate yourself to be processed into dog food or ethanol.

  • davidgnews Apr 28, 2008

    The ethanol thing is a mistake, but seriously colliedave, you are out there ! I don't know when those 'extremists' ever had real power, so just stop it and find some new material.

    I'd really like to know if a lot of those 'price support' programs are still in place (like warehousing cheese, etc). I lost track of it.

  • RattleSnake Apr 28, 2008

    I bet the people living in cary reading this article are saying to themselves right now "Wait, you mean food doesnt come from the grocery store" LOL

  • colliedave Apr 28, 2008

    I have a simple solution: make the environmentalist extremists use ethanol as their food source.