• Heat, drought in Midwest contribute to higher food prices

    By: Mark Becker


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Noticed higher prices at the grocery store?

    Blame the heat and a drought in the Midwest.

    The real problem is the hot, dry summer in the Midwest that has hurt the corn crop.

    The FDA says it's pushing meat and dairy prices up 3 to 5 percent this summer.

    "We're seeing week-to-week increases on beef, whether it's sirloin, rib eyes, tenderloins, some as much as a dollar a pound," said Fred Merrill, who owns The Meat House in Ballantyne.

    Merrill said they're trying to absorb some of the increase, but have had to raise some prices just to keep up.

    The heat has hit local farmers markets, as well.

    "I was surprised to see a watermelon -- a regular sized watermelon -- for 8 bucks in the store," said Darrick Fewell as he browsed the farmers market on Yorkmont Road for bargains.

    But vendors say they're hard to come by.  Even though the Charlotte area has had plenty of rain, it's not enough they say to offset the heat.

    "About two weeks ago when it got 105, 107, it put everything in shock. You can't grow. You can't produce," said a vendor who calls himself Fat Boy.

    Carl Leatherman, a farmer, said trying to supplement the rain can only do so much.

    "Irrigation don't do anything but keep it alive, you've got to have some rain water with it," Leatherman said.

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