WASHINGTON, July 15 (UPI) -- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Sunday the drought affecting 61 percent of the country should have only a "marginal impact on food prices."
In an interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Vilsack said reports of a 30 percent increase in food costs seen at some grocery stores should not be related to the current drought.
"The prices and the impact of a drought will not likely be seen in the grocery aisles until later next year, 2013. If folks are using this opportunity to raise prices inappropriately, shame on them. It takes a long time for the prices to basically work itself through the system," he said.
Even with a reduction in the food supply -- which he said will not impact meeting the food demands of the country -- prices should not skyrocket.
"Fourteen cents of every food dollar that goes through a grocery store goes in the pocket of a farmer or rancher," Vilsack said. "So while these commodity prices will likely increase, it will have a marginal impact on food prices. What really drives food prices more significantly are energy costs."