How high can it go? Rising corn prices means you'll pay more for food

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- A massive drought is causing a spike in local corn prices.

It's an ordinary-looking plant with extra-ordinary implications. You don't realize how important corn is until something goes wrong. And this is one of those times.

"We feed four to five tons a day. Every single day. It's non-stop."

You take corn out of the equation, and Carl Bleazard is out of the job. Powered corn is the lifeblood that keeps his 1,500 cattle alive every single day; something that's no small feat when times are tough. Since June, Bleazard has grappled with a 50% rise in corn prices, all because of an enormous drought in the Midwest that's decimated the corn crop.

"We just hope for the best. You try to survive and keep paying the bills," Bleazard says.

Bleazard is not alone. Prices for corn have spiked so much, fellow ranchers have been forced to sell part of their herd just to make ends meet. It's one of the reasons why you could be seeing a 20% increase in milk prices by the end of the year.

Think of it as a ripple effect on your kitchen table. With cows having less corn, it means they'll be less milk available when your kids have cereal in the morning, and without corn, it means there might not be any cereal at all.

"I have heard complaints that the price of food keep going up... and I think we're just getting started," Bleazard tells Action News.

Economists say overall food prices could rise as much as five percent because of the shortage of corn. It means more hurt for ranchers like Bleazard, and more money coming out of your wallet at the store.

Rising gas prices have also spiked the cost of corn, but for reasons you may not expect.

With ethanol becoming popular, corn is powering cars more often; leading to an even bigger crop shortage.