Ethanol and Food Prices

Cindy Zimmerman

Ethanol has been blamed for both higher egg prices and higher milk prices recently due to higher costs for livestock feed.

AFBF Overall, the American Farm Bureau Federation reports that for the first quarter of this year, food prices are about four percent higher than the previous quarter. Farm Bureau’s regular market basket survey shows 12 of 16 basic grocery items are higher priced, including eggs, flour, bacon, pork chops, milk, potatoes, corn oil, mayonnaise, vegetable oil, ground chuck, sirloin tip roast, and toasted oat cereal.

Items lower in price compared to the end of last year were cheddar cheese, bread, chicken and apples.

It’s interesting to note that higher egg prices are blamed on ethanol while chicken prices are lower – and that higher milk prices are blamed on ethanol, but cheese prices are lower. It’s also interesting to note that red meat prices are higher compared to the last quarter of last year, but lower or the same compared to the same quarter last year.

Finally, Farm Bureau notes that the farmer’s share of the food dollar continues to decline. At this point, farmers and ranchers only receive about 22 cents out of every dollar spent on food – which means the rest goes to costs for transportation, manufacturing, retailers, etc. In other words, the middle men. Unlike most other business people, most farmers and ranchers are unable to set their own price for the commodities they produce and sell. They receive prices set by the buyers of the products. Even if their costs go up, they are unable to accordingly pass those costs on to the consumer. Therefore, most of the time, higher food prices go to the middle men, not the farmer.

Ethanol, News