For the average consumer, the effects of this year's brutal drought are still months away, but they are coming, as many food prices next year are expected to jump by as much as 4%, reports Reuters. Already corn and soy prices are going up, which is expected to lead to higher feed costs next, and then higher prices for meat and dairy. Beef is expected to be hit hardest, climbing up to 5% in 2013. Another scary stat: Experts say that drought losses will be at least $12 billion, the most since 1988, reports USA Today. But with the economy's continuing weakness, rising food prices are not expected to boost the overall inflation rate, which is at 2% now and expected to fall to 1.9% next year.
Help may be on the way for farmers by way of a bipartisan $1 trillion farm bill before Congress now. It has passed the Senate, but House Republicans are divided about what to do about it. "I've been urging the House of Representatives to get a bill to the floor and get it voted on so they can conference with the Senate and get a farm bill passed,” said Thomas J. Vilsack, the secretary of agriculture. (Read more farming stories.)