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Midwest drought threatens to dry up consumer funds

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Posted: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 9:49 pm | Updated: 10:32 pm, Wed Aug 29, 2012.

Saturday’s rain was a relief from the past months of heat and drought, but it still was not enough to fully recover Maryville’s extremely dry landscape.

If you drive a car or eat food, the drought could pose a threat to your wallet. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Maryville only received 4.07 inches of rain during June and July; this is down almost 50 percent from last year’s total.

Organizations have been receiving funds that they can give to local farmers to help with drought-related issues.

“The emergency livestock water program tries to assist landowners who are running out of water for their livestock,” Greg Frueh, Nodaway County soil and water technician, said.

Producers have to sell livestock earlier due to lack of feed and sometimes water access.

“Long-term meat supply might be lower due to the liquidation of the cow herds due to the drought,” said Frueh. “It might make the price of meat a little higher later.”

The high grain prices will affect not only meat but other animal products such as milk and eggs.

“Prices will rise. We’re expecting a lot of poultry and beef products and any type of meat is definitely going to rise,” DeWayne McIntyre, Hy-Vee assistant manager store operations, said. “The price of grain will rise; therefore, the price of eggs will go up and the price of milk will go up.”

Gas prices may also increase due to the ethanol content; though a rise in gasoline prices would be caused by multiple factors, not just drought conditions.

“It is hard to tell what gas prices are going to do because of the drought,” McIntyre said.

According to McIntyre, they are not expecting a large rise in fruit and vegetable prices unless the price of transportation and fuel costs rise.

“Frozen or canned products are a very economically safe way of going about things,” McIntyre said. “Fresh items are now available; you could grab and freeze them.”

Maryville resident Emily Hogan makes plans to stock up on food that may increase in price or choose alternative items to supplement some of the cost.

Although prices are expected to rise, McIntyre stated that there will possibly be price increases, but not for around another six months.

“We expect an increase, but it won’t be anything like a 50 percent increase, nothing that harsh,” McIntyre said.

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