12% dip in corn production means increase in meat prices

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee butcher shop says Wednesday morning, July 11th the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a 12% dip in corn production. This, after a lack of rainfall over recent weeks, and a drought declaration in 42 southeastern Wisconsin counties. This will likely result in higher prices at the grocery store, on items like produce and meat.

Jeff Zupan is the meat manager at Bunzel's Meat Market. He says the country's continuing drought is killing corn production and making a mess of meat prices.

"Our ribeyes, our New York Strips, Porterhouses have went up probably about $1.20 a pound since Memorial Day. When your suppliers call you up and you ask them what the beef market's doing, and they tell you 'it's on fire,' it's not a good sign," Zupan said.

Experts say the reason for the increase is because animals feed on corn, and when feeding the animals becomes more expensive due to the lack of corn, so does selling their meat.

Zupan says ethanol gas production, which counts on corn is also contributing to climbing prices.

"It all affects the grain and the feed prices, and that's pretty much why we are in the market that we are right now. I don't expect it to come down any time soon," Zupan said.

Five O'Clock Steakhouse owner Georgia Papadopoulous says she's already had to raise prices once this year (in April). She doesn't want to have to do it again, at the restaurant famous for filets and porterhouse steaks.

"We tried for a whole year-and-a-half not to raise prices, and finally I gave in. I just printed the menu and haven't laminated it yet," Papadoupoulous said.

Papadoupoulous says she's hoping she can trim prices back to where they were just weeks ago, but as the drought continues, that looks less and less likely.

Experts suggest if freezer space is available, customers start stocking up, or trying cheaper cuts of meat.

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