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Food Prices Serve Up Surprises in CA

April 21, 2008

Sacramento, CA – Inflation is being served up at the dinner table in California. Egg prices are up 35 percent, chicken is up 10 percent, and bread and breakfast cereal prices have seen their biggest jumps in more than 30 years.

Gawain Kripke with Oxfam America says rising gas prices get a lot of the blame, but the basics used to produce food–-whether in processing or feeding animals–-have been in short supply.

"We're consuming almost a third of our corn crop to produce ethanol, which we're then burning in our cars, and that's taking a lot of food off the market to put into our gas tanks."

Food price sticker shock isn't just a problem for the United States, Kripke adds. It also affects the global market, and he says those in the poorest countries are taking the biggest hit.

"Food may be 80 percent of what they spend money on, and if food prices are increasing even 20 percent, that means people are going to not eat."

Kripke believes the pending federal farm legislation has the potential to help on the consumer price front because it offers incentives for farmers to grow corn and other grains for food. The House and Senate are finalizing the 2008 Farm Bill.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - CA