Drought conditions may mean increased prices at grocery store

MUKWONAGO — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Monday, July 9th declared a state of emergency due to drought conditions in 42 southeastern Wisconsin counties. The drought declaration is meant to allow farmers to tap into lakes and streams for irrigation of crops. Farmers admit the lack of rainfall has them worried, and predict we’ll see grocery prices increase due to the weather.

A tour of Kristin Krokowski’s farm sounds a lot like a horror story, with the victims the onions, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes and green beans.

“This is where the death and carnage starts. They’re all flopped over and dead,” Krokowski said.

Krokowski estimates she’s lost 80 percent of her green beans, most of her potatoes and at least 50 percent of her onions.

“Part of the question is, at what point are we going to have to start passing that along to the customers?” Krokowski said.

Krokowski’s produce is sold at farmer’s markets and road-side stands. She says at farmer’s markets, most sellers are trying to hold out on raising prices, but if a few more weeks pass without substantial rain, they’ll be forced to increase prices.

“I would expect maybe a 10 or 15 percent increase, and if it continues on longer that will go up, or maybe there just won’t be produce,” Krokowski said.

U.S. corn prices soared this month due to dry weather across the Midwest. Krokowski says we should know in a few weeks just how much the drought will affect prices at the grocery store.

“First on products that are made out of corn and second on animals that feed on corn. It probably won’t even be six months before we see it affect meat prices,” Krokowski said.

Krokowski says she expects this drought will not only be tough on consumers, but also on farmers throughout southeastern Wisconsin.

“At this point, we’re trying to break even. At this point, I don’t think it’s going to be a profitable year,” Krokowski said.

The Wisconsin Corn Growers Association says at this stage, there isn’t any way to predict what the harvest will be and how grocery store prices will be affected. They’re coming off a huge yield last year, and say some of that should have carried over. They say the next few weeks will be very important.

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