Midwest drought boosts demand for West Coast vegetables

Drought-ravaged fruit and vegetable production in Midwest and East growing areas is boosting demand and prices for West Coast vegetable marketers, The Packer reports this week.

“With this whole local marketing issue being used, a lot of retailers have been encouraging these small farmers to increase acreage so they will be able to handle the local programs,” Dick Spezzano, president of Spezzano Consulting Service, Monrovia, Calif., told the trade newspaper. If yields are below average - which they are, thanks to the drought - retailers are forced to lean more heavily on West Coast suppliers, he said.

Spezzano said he has talked to many shippers in California who have told him that they are getting a lot of demand for the Midwest and East this summer that they normally do not get.

Meanwhile, grain farmers in areas less troubled by drought conditions also stand to benefit, American Public Media's Marketplace reported. Think Minnesota and the Dakotas.

"In some of the places, they've just gotten excellent rains right when they needed them," Iowa State economist Mike Duffy told reporter Dan Gorenstein. "We always talk about a million-dollar rain, because that's how much grain it will generate."

Duffy said corn prices have nearly doubled, and could keep rising.