Commentary: Putting food prices in perspective

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Editor's note: The following commentary was written by Gene Hall, Public Relations Director for the Texas Farm Bureau and published on the Texas Agriculture Talks website.

Here in Texas, we nervously watch the skies and the weather reports to see if we can get a clue as to how much rain we’ll get soon and even later on. When a Texan tells you, “What a beautiful day!,” chances are it’s raining.

What does this mean for food prices? I get asked that all the time, and the truth is, I don’t know. It won’t surprise you that I do have an opinion. I think we’ll be okay. Not perfect, but okay.

I’ve also been asked several times to describe the great Texas drought of 2011. I’ve got that distilled to a single word: Epic. It was the worst ever. In 2012, other parts of the country like the Midwest saw a carbon copy of that. We felt especially sorry for them. They are not used to it like we are.

Because of that two-year event, some experts are predicting food price increases of as much as 4 percent. That’s not good news. But remember, that is 4 percent of the 10 PERCENT of disposable income we pay on average for food in this country. For most of us, that’s a minor inconvenience. It doesn’t take away the sting of folks in unfortunate circumstances who do not have enough to eat. The Texas Farm Bureau is allied with a group called Feeding America.  They and I would sure appreciate your help.

For those who must make every nickel count, it’s also good news that our agriculture capacity in the U.S. has not yet “topped out.” We can do more as long as America’s farmers and ranchers are reasonably free to use the technology that makes it possible.

I hope I’m not talking about “the epic drought of 2013″ in a few weeks. That could change a lot of things. But again, if we don’t handicap our farmers and ranchers with silly rules and block the road to technological advances, I think we’ll be okay.

Having enough to eat is so very basic and yet something we should never take for granted.

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