The drought affecting almost two-thirds of the United States could lead to higher food prices at the end of the year or early next year, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Wednesday.
Over two-thirds of the corn and soybean crops have been impacted by the drought, and livestock producers have been especially hard hit, Vilsack told reporters at the White House. Although the corn crop should still be one of the largest in U.S. history, yields will be less than anticipated.
“We would anticipate in the short term, food prices for beef, poultry and pork may go down a bit” as herds are culled, Vilsack said. “But over time they will rise,” as will the price of processed foods.
Vilsack called on Congress to renew a disaster relief program that expired in 2011, to incorporate disaster relief for farmers into the Farm Bill, or take other steps that would help producers.
“We’re obviously going to need some help working with Congress to revive the disaster programs that were allowed to expire last year,” Vilsack said, or take similar steps. He called o Congress to act “as soon as possible.”