Entries in Department of Agriculture (3)


Food Prices Could Rise 5 Percent in Next 9 Months

Jupiterimages/Pixland/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The cost of filling grocery carts in America is going up. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday that it is projecting as much as a five percent price hike for some food items over the next nine months.

“Of course I’m concerned,” said shopper Barbara Webb. “I’m concerned for the people who can’t afford it.”

Behind the expensive jump is the drought, now covering 60 percent of the United States, pushing up prices for feed that translate into higher prices for beef, pork and chicken products.

Beef prices will see the biggest hike, up four to five percent, according to the USDA. That means the ground beef purchased last year for $2.77 per pound will cost consumers $3.04 per pound next year.

Dairy product prices will increase by 3.5 to 4.5 percent, bumping a gallon of milk from $3.57 in 2011 to $3.84 in 2013.

The price of eggs will also go up by three to four percent, making a dozen eggs $1.95 per dozen in 2013, compared with $1.77 in 2011.

If USDA’s economists are correct, a family who spends $150 per week on groceries will now be spending $160 by next year, bumping their annual food budget up more than $500.

Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart magazine, has a few tips for families trying to keep their grocery bills down, despite the anticipated hike.

"The best thing you can do is if all you’re doing is clipping coupons in newspapers -- go online!” Freeman said. “There are literally hundreds of coupons online and if you’re not tapping that, you’re missing out on a huge resource for savings.”

Freeman also recommends buying store brands in supermarkets, joining warehouse clubs and even shopping at dollar stores to save the most money.

"Things are changing and the dollar stores are now carrying brand name items,” Freeman said. “Prices can be up to one-third cheaper at the dollar store than at the supermarket.”

The 2013 food price forecast projects an overall food price hike of three to four percent, higher than the normal annual grocery inflation of 2.8 percent.

The recent announcement is also the USDA’s first projection to factor in the drought.

David Lobell, writes studies for Climate Central, monitoring global warming. He says farmers should prepare for tougher growing conditions and higher prices in the future.

"This year is very emblematic of the type of thing we worry about with climate change,” Lobell said. “The new normal for agriculture is going to be frequent episodes of very high temperatures. Temperatures at which pretty much any crop does not do very well.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Less Beef Being Consumed in the US, USDA Finds

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Where's the beef?  These days, less of it is being found in the kitchens of the average American family, much to the consternation of cattle ranchers and meat packers.

There's no question that the nation's beef consumption habits have changed over the past decade for health reasons.  Another problem for the beef industry: the down economy and a fall-off in business of restaurants with main courses of steaks and other meat dishes.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, per capita beef consumption in 2011 was 57.4 pounds per person, a drop of 13 percent from 2001.  It's believed that the decline will continue next year by at least another five to six percent from 2011.

The beef industry has responded by developing cuts of meat that will satisfy steak lovers at lower prices.  Sales of cheaper ground beef have also risen substantially.

Meanwhile, the industry is also looking outside the U.S. to bolster business.  Sales have improved in Asian countries including Russia, where fears of mad cow disease have subsided over the past few years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


USDA Is Pleased after Government Approves Funding in Pigford Settlement

Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. Photo Courtesy - USDA dot gov(WASHINGTON) -- The  Senate Friday decided to provide funding as relief to the country's black farmers who have experienced discrimination in the farming industry.

The government approved funding for the settlement agreement on a class action suit originally filed in 1997 by farmer Timothy Pigford, who was later joined in the suit by 400 other African American farmers, against the Department of Agriculture citing instances of descrimination.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture commended the government's "leadership in working to right these wrongs."

"This announcement marks a major milestone in USDA's efforts to turn the page on a sad chapter in our history," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a written statement.

Vilsack added that Civil rights is a "top priority," which has prompted him to implement a program that will ensure customers are treated fairly and equally.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio