If Americans are seeing increasing food prices at the grocery store, it’s the fault of energy prices or unfair practices, not widespread drought across the U.S., Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Sunday.
Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, Vilsack acknowledged the pain droughts are causing farmers, resulting in lower-than-expected crop yields and higher commodity prices. But he said that those prices shouldn't translate over to consumers until late 2013.
“Fourteen cents of every food dollar that goes through a grocery store goes in the pocket of a farmer or rancher. So while these commodity prices will likely increase, it will have a marginal impact on food prices,” he said, adding that energy prices drive up food prices more significantly.
“The prices and the impact of a drought probably will not likely be seen in the grocery aisles until later next year, 2013. If folks are using this opportunity to raise prices inappropriately, shame on them,” he added.
Vilsack said that the droughts and the consequent pressure on farmers is added reason for Congress to pass a farm bill, which has passed in the Senate and recently passed out of committee in the House but remains in limbo until Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, decides to take it up.