Local News

Rising prices for food begin at the farm

Posted April 28, 2008 6:54 p.m. EDT
Updated April 29, 2008 6:50 a.m. EDT

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.