Stutzman Talks Drought, Food Prices

By Max Resnik

July 16, 2012 Updated Jul 16, 2012 at 5:55 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – While attending a check presentation to the Veterans Administration at Raytheon, Congressman Marlin Stutzman (R-3) also addressed growing concerns over crops and food prices amid the drought.

Stutzman says he has talked to farmers throughout the 3rd District, from Jay County to Lagrange County, who are watching corn and soy crops crumble as dry, hot weather persists. He estimates that less than 50 percent of the crop could be salvaged come harvest time. Stutzman, a member of a farming family, says farmers can still look to recent years of positive yields to average out this year’s losses.

“I know a lot of farmers are going to be struggling out there with the drought. Thankfully, we've had some good years in the past couple of years and that's going to be able to carry us through. It’s always averages that the farmer looks at.”

In a report published by the Purdue Extension last week comparing this year’s drought to the one seen in 1988, the USDA says that only 19 percent of the state’s corn crop is rated as good to excellent. The extension also estimated that food prices could increase 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent in 2013 as a result of the drought.

Stutzman says increasing food prices are going to put a strain on the government. More specifically, he points to the country’s food stamp program. He says that as food prices continue to rise, the value of a food stamp decreases. He adds that current food regulations imposed on things like beef, eggs, pork and poultry are adding to this problem.

“Production of food is only going up and so what is going to happen is the cost of–the value of a food stamp is going to go down because food prices are going to go higher. You know, this is something that Washington really needs to take a step back and look at.”

The current farm bill expires September 30. A new version of the bill was passed out of the House Agriculture Committee last week, something Stutzman opposed. Stutzman says he favors a wait-and-see approach to the farm bill and says it should depend on yields in the fall harvest.

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