Friday, October 5, 2007

Oil Prices and Weather Driving Up Food Costs

Acting USDA Secretary Chuck Conner who recently spoke out in defense of US farmers and domestic ethanol production, told another audience this week that ethanol fuel is getting too much of the blame "for what's happening in grocery store aisles."

High oil prices and weather problems have raised food US food prices this year. Increased production of corn-based ethanol has had an impact but not as much the head of the Agriculture Department said Tuesday.

Increased ethanol production is a goal of President George W. Bush's administration as well as the US Congress.

Food prices have increased about 2.7 percent in each of the last three years. A jump between 3.5 percent and 4.5 percent is expected this year before lowering to between 3 percent and 4 percent in 2008, Conner said at a conference hosted by the Renewable Fuels Association.

Increased demand in Asia and elsewhere and droughts in Australia, as well as rising demand in China and elsewhere drove up up food prices. And the recent record highs for retail oil prices also add to inflation by increasing the costs of everything from packaging to transportation, Conner said.


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