SOMERVILLE, TN (abc24.com) - Coming soon to a grocery store aisle near you, higher prices for staples like meat, chicken, and milk. It is all due to one of the worst and most wide-spread droughts in decades.
On Wednesday, the federal government estimated meat prices will spike the most, at nearly 5 percent. To understand why, abc24.com went to the weekly cattle auction in Somerville, TN to better understand the reason for the spike.
Donnie Murley sits in the crowd. He is a rancher from Ripley, but on this day he is trying to sell six calves.
"I was wanting to try and hold them until fall, but I just, it don't look like we are going to get no relief," Murley said.
This drought has left Murley with not enough pasture to feed the cattle he has, forcing him to buy cattle feed, which costs more money.
"The corn prices are going higher, the cows are going down," he said.
On this day, 244 cattle passed through the auction. That compares to about 75 last year. The summer isn't considered prime cattle-selling season. Ranchers prefer to sell in the spring and fall.
"Anytime someone needs to sell cattle, when it is not their usual time, it depresses prices," said June Walker Jr., a longtime local rancher.
With ranchers forced to sell, the price of cattle has gone done. Translation, in a few months, beef prices will likely decrease. However, the federal government says prices could spike again in early 2013 due to a cattle shortage.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it expects dairy prices to increase around 4 percent and chicken prices to go up by between 3 and 4 percent.
"You know, we have seen it like this before, and if we live long enough, we'll see it again," said Walker.