AUSTIN (KXAN) - The nation's worst drought in 50 years is going to have far-reaching effects -- all the way to your grocery store.
The severe drought across much of the Plains and Midwest states is forcing ranchers to sell much of their livestock because they can't afford to feed the animals. This sell-off temporarily floods the market, but then leads to a shortage in the following months.
Bryan Black, communications director at the Texas Department of Agriculture , laid out the the effect the drought can have on your wallet.
"What we can say is, when there is a drought – we're probably going to see prices go up at the grocery store," Black said.
One of the commodities hardest-hit by the drought is beef. According to the U.S. Agriculture Department, beef prices should increase by around 4 percent at your grocery store when the supply shortage kicks in – probably a few months from now.
But beef isn't the only item affected by the drought.
"Beef prices go up, things that involve corn will go up, along with poultry and chicken," Black said.
In fact, according to the USDA , about 88 percent of the nation's supply of corn is affected by this drought. This will make prices rise next year on everything from corn flakes to popcorn.
Grocery stores are doing the best they can to absorb the cost increase, but they're also taking on some losses.
"While the drought has impacted the cost of commodities, our customers do not necessarily see that at the shelf," the H-E-B chain said in statement. "We are focused on keeping retail prices at the low H-E-B prices our customers are used to. We are able to absorb much of the cost and pass the savings on to our customers due to our strong commitment to local Texas products and our ability to manufacture in Texas."
With the potential for a wet winter in Texas thanks to El Niño , the drought could ease up a bit in the next few months. However, even if the drought ended altogether this winter, the inherent lag in getting goods from farms to the consumers means that we shouldn't expect grocery store prices to go back down until 2014.
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