Food prices have been steadily increasing for the last year, leaving consumers feeling the pinch. Although the overall inflation rate is slowly receding, grocery costs continue to remain stubbornly high, especially for seniors and lower-income households. In order to get a better understanding of the factors driving high food prices, POLITICO turned to experts from the U.S. Congress—four members who are also working farmers.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the self-proclaimed “only working farmer” in the Senate, believes that the solution lies with increased competition in the marketplace. He advocates for the Biden administration’s move to increase meat processing, as well as the passage of his [cattle market] bills. Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) agrees with Tester, saying that farmers are facing rising prices for fuel and tractor parts due to supply chain shortages. Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif) says that fixing food inflation means looking at the entire picture, from production to retail.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting an 8% increase in grocery costs this year, which is a decline from the 11.8% increase in grocery costs during 2022. However, this still means that consumers at the end of 2023 could be paying almost 20% more for the same groceries compared with 2021. There is also another school of thought, particularly popular among left-leaning lawmakers and policy makers, that food producers may be raising costs simply because they can.
Overall, the factors driving high food prices are complex and it is difficult for political leaders to address them. It is clear that more work needs to be done in order to ensure that all households have access to affordable food.
0. “4 of Congress' farmers weigh in on how to solve high food prices” POLITICO, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/02/14/food-prices-farmers-congress-00082688
1. “Inflation 2023: Grocery prices continue to rise, creating a “pain point” for many” CBS News, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/inflation-food-grocery-prices-financial-pain/
2. “Four of Congress' farmers weigh in on how to solve high food prices” Yahoo News, 14 Feb. 2023, https://news.yahoo.com/food-prices-stubbornly-high-farmers-135214601.html