By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Drought and oppressive heat have created a one-two punch for farmers in much of the country, and that’s likely to hit local consumers later this summer. Produce prices in our area have been stable this summer and should remain stable until locally grown produce is gone — there are even some bargains to be had.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey are among the few states that haven’t been hammered by an epic drought. So local crops are doing fine according to the USDA’s Mike Cramer, who checks prices every day at the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market.

He says the sizzling heat has led to lower prices for sweet corn and tomatoes.

“The heat has advanced the ripening process and a lot of the crops have come to market all at one time so there’s been an oversupply of those two items.”

Look for inflation to hit hard later this summer and in the fall as the effects of the drought begin to take hold.

When temperatures rise above 90 degrees dairy cows produce less. Overall, 28 states are seeing their hottest year since weather records began in 1895. So milk and cheese prices no doubt will be rising, and we’re likely to pay a lot more for beef and poultry because the nation’s grain belt has been devastated by drought.

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