Professor: Hurricanes Harvey, Irma won't have drastic impact on your wallet

Sept. 13, 2017: Hurricanes Irma and Harvey have also sent prices climbing on products like beef and citrus fruit, but a UT professor said there likely won't be a drastic impact on grocery prices.

KNOXVILLE - Hurricanes Irma and Harvey have sent prices for products like beef and citrus fruit up, but a University of Tennessee Agricultural Economist says the effects may not be as bad as you'd think.

UT professor Dr. David Hughes says while Irma and Harvey will affect agriculture in certain states, your grocery bill likely won't take a huge hit.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry says Hurricane Irma devastated Florida.

"This is potentially a week-long event, with water and the tides coming and going," said Curry.

But Hughes said rises in citrus fruit prices may not be unmanageable.

"Probably not much, it would be pretty minimal," said Hughes.

According to early estimates, 75 percent of Florida's citrus crops were damaged by the storm.

Sugar crops also took a hit with a 10-percent loss.

But prices may not move much.

"For example for oranges, a lot of the import market can fill that gap," said Hughes.

The futures market prices have stabilized.

"The futures prices are a good indication, really our best indication, of where we expect prices to move, people expect prices to move. And they're not really not showing very much movement in that direction," said Hughes.

What about Hurricane Harvey's effect on Texas' largest product, beef?

The beef production lost in Texas didn't have enough of an effect on the total amount of beef supply in the country.

"A lot of cattle farmers were affected in Texas, but if you look at aggregate supply, really not that big of an impact," said Hughes.

But the product you may not have thought of is lumber.

Cities will need tons of lumber to rebuild after both storms' destruction, sending prices up.

"Places like Gatlinburg, which are in the process of rebuilding, might see some spikes there, it would be hard to say, but it's something that bears looking at," said Hughes.

Hughes said a lot of the money we spend on food goes to processing and retail, rather than the farmer.

Only about 14 percent goes to farmers, with the majority going to the grocery store.

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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