Much of North America is in the midst of a debilitating heat wave, and while the high temperatures may be an annoyance to city dwellers, they threaten the livelihood of many farmers — which could end up hurting us all.
In the U.S. it’s being called the worst drought since 1956, affecting 55% of the country, with parts of 29 states being declared disaster areas. Corn, which requires large amounts of water, has been particularly hard hit, with U.S. production shrinking by 7%, and some analysts predicting that close to one-quarter of this year’s crop could be lost.
The price of the grain has increased 40% in the last six weeks and corn futures have soared by 50% over the past month. With corn now used to produce everything from animal feedstock, to synthetic sugar, alcohol and gasoline, consumers on both sides of the border are preparing for a sharp increase in the cost of living.
Corn is now used in three-quarters of all the products sold in American grocery stores, many of which are exported to Canadian consumers as well. And while analysts generally expect a 50% increase in the price of corn to lead to a 1% increase at the checkout counter, meat prices could rise by as much as 10%, due to shortages in feed.