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Bacon Shortage Is 'Overblown,' Economists Say

If you started stocking your freezer with bacon to prepare for the upcoming pork shortage, you can start cooking some of it. Economists are telling consumers to expect a slight rise in price but not the "overblown" price increase in recent news reports.

"It seems alarmist," said Purdue University economist Christ Hurt, in response to the prediction that pork prices would double by the end of next year.

While Hurt says pork prices might increase only 4 or 5 percent, though he notes"that the drought has caused feed prices to go up sharply."

The two main ingredients in livestock feed, corn and soy, took a hit with a drought in the Midwest this summer. The USDA will allocate $30 million in funds to help producers affected by the drought.

"These funds can be used to assist in moving water to livestock in need, providing emergency forage for livestock, and rehabilitating lands severely impacted by the drought," the organization posted on its website.

Feed costs attribute to about 60 percent of the cost of animal production.

Although the producers will likely lose money, Hurt predicts they will have a profitable business by next summer. Crops from South America will help lower the grain prices.

"The most extreme is the beef sector," he warns. With a grow-out period of at least nine months, it will take the beef industry a longer time to bounce back than the pork industry.

"The one thing we don't want to do is scare consumers," he says, suggesting people try other types of meat if they are trying to save money.

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