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Feed costs trigger inflation

U. S. food prices will rise by at least seven per cent in 2009 because of higher feed costs for chickens, hogs and cattle, said a group of food industry economists Nov. 6.

It would be the third year in a row that food prices rose faster than the overall U. S. inflation rate. Food inflation is the highest since 1990.

“The sizable increase in the cost of producing food has not been fully passed on to the consumer,” said private consultant Bill Lapp.

During a teleconference, economists from the National Chicken Council and the consultancy Farm Econ said food inflation could be seven to eight per cent.

Although grain prices have declined since summer, this year’s corn, wheat and soybean crops are forecast to fetch prices at the farm gate that are double their 2005 levels. Corn and soybeans are major ingredients in feed rations.

“We’ve been losing money for more than a year,” said Bill Roenigk, economist for the Chicken Council, who said producers intend to cut production by as much as 12 per cent.

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