This is what corn futures have done over the summer. I know it looks like the same graph we’ve shown you before, but it isn’t. The key difference is the number at the top right. It used to be a high of $7.50. Now corn is predicted to sell for more than $8.00 per bushel in December — an increase of 60 percent since spring.

Corn futures from CME Group. Click to embiggen.

The reason for the price spike, at the risk of sounding like a broken record: the drought. Less corn production, higher corn prices. We’ve noted that these price increases (and, in fact, expectations of higher prices) will impact other foods over the short- and long-term. But the meat industry is already feeling the pinch this summer — both because of concerns about corn prices and because animals have less of an appetite during a drought. Smithfield Foods is hedging against increased prices by importing corn from Brazil, a “highly unusual” step.

Politicians from meat-producing states are also banding together to try and increase the supply of corn for animals by challenging the amount of the grain that is used for ethanol. From Reuters:

At least one of four states hoping to ease requirements on adding grain-based ethanol to gasoline is expected to petition the [Environmental Protection Agency] as soon as Monday as the worst drought in 50 years spikes corn prices and lowers profits for livestock producers. …