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Food prices have gone up in the last year. But Wisconsin producers aren’t necessarily being paid more

Quoted: Jeff Sindelar is a meat specialist for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Extension. He said most of the price increases have been in fresh meat products, with more processed items like hot dogs or lunch meat seeing small price growth or none at all.

But Sindelar said the meat industry is “too dynamic” to clearly point to the factor that is driving up prices.

He said farmers are facing increased costs to raise animals. But price changes are more likely to come from the processing companies, which have a greater influence on what consumers pay for products. Sindelar travels the state to work with all sizes of meat processors, and he said they’re seeing higher production costs, too.

“Regardless of where I go, I get the same response: they can’t hire enough people, they have open positions. When they’re trying to produce products, it’s taking them seven days to produce five days worth of product,” Sindelar said. “So 20 to 25 percent more resources to produce the same amount of product as they once did.”

Mark Stephenson, UW-Madison’s director of dairy policy analysis, said mixed market signals for dairy farmers could be keeping prices from increasing as rapidly as other food groups.

“Our future markets are showing that we would expect higher (commodity) prices over the next several months. But we’ve also had a few reports that are kind of pulling back on those reigns a little bit. One of them are the stocks reports,” Stephenson said.