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Food prices rising in 2013

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Amarillo, TX -- You'll most likely be paying more at the grocery store this year - but you may not even notice it.

According to the Department of Agriculture, food prices are expected to climb 3 or 4 percent this year.  that means an average family of four would spend an extra 15 dollars a month on their grocery bill.  And while 15 dollars won't make or break most of us, that 15 dollars could push some over the edge.

The U.S. has some of the lowest food prices in the world, and the relative price was actually decreasing over the last half of the twentieth century.  But since 2006, food prices have been increasing faster than inflation.  And the lingering effects of the ongoing drought have pushed crop prices to record highs. But food prices are affected by many other factors, like fuel and shipping.

Dr. Stephen Amosson, an economist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Center in Amarillo, says food prices are affected by many factors, like fuel and shipping costs.

"The total cost of the corn going to the farmer that he's providing is somewhere around is somewhere around 7 or 12 cents," explains Amosson.  "So even if that doubled, we're looking at maybe a ten-cent rise in the price of Kellogg's, Post Toasties, or corn flakes, or whatever. Does it mean the price of corn will go up? Yes. How much? Maybe a little bit. And if it goes up a lot, it's not because of the corn; it's going to be from some additional processing costs for the most part."

"It's just more costs that you have to worry on top of ever-increasing costs such as utilities, fuel for your car," says Zack Wilson, Executive Director of the High Plains Food Bank.  "That's what we've seen over the past several years: it just takes that extra expense in the month for some families or some individuals to start seeking assistance for the first time, whether it be, 'We just need food for a week to hold us over,' or ,'I lost my job,' or as simple as a car breaking down."

And when food prices rise, food banks like our own see less food coming in and more people asking for help.

If you'd like to read the report for yourself, you'll find that and some perspectives on it at the links attached to this story.

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