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Wisconsinites facing sticker shock not just at the pump

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River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Wisconsinites are not only facing sticker shock at the gas pump, but in the grocery aisle too.

According to a survey released this week by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, grocery prices have jumped 2.6 percent from the last quarter of 2007 to the first quarter of this year.

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The bureau's Market Basket survey found that the prices on the 20 food items they track averaged $1.34 higher in early 2008 than they were in the last quarter of 2007.

Taking the biggest jump were eggs, which jumped 28 cents. That increase is a direct result of higher fuel prices, according to the bureau.

The bureau puts the blame for the 18.6 percent increase on higher energy and feed costs.

"Eggs are a perishable item with a short product cycle," explained Paul Ketring, director of communications for the Farm Bureau. "These factors make eggs very susceptible to sudden price changes as the price of key inputs -- electricity and feed grain -- go up."

The cost of tomatoes is also on the rise.

The survey found that the per-pound price of tomatoes jumped 23 cents from the fourth quarter of 2007. That jump was 52 cents since the first quarter of 2007.

In their survey results the bureau notes that fresh tomatoes sold in Wisconsin are shipped from Florida or California which makes them vulnerable to increases in transportation costs.

According to the California Tomato Growers Association, another factor is that farmers are cutting acreage dedicated to tomato production this season due to tight water supplies.

Milk prices are stabilizing, according to the Market Basket survey. The survey found that in the first quarter of 2007, milk averaged $3.39 a gallon.

The survey did find that some meat products have actually declined in cost.

Ground sirloin, chicken breasts and ham all dropped. Meanwhile, sirloin tip roasts, bacon, pork chops and whole chicken went up.

The group reports that the number of beef cattle is down nationwide, but Wisconsin's beef herd numbers remain stable.

Wisconsin farmers added 5,000 beef cows to the overall herd size in 2007, while drought caused farmers in southern states to reduce their herds.

Consumers may also see that prices continue to rise.

The U.S. Department of Labor's consumer price index forecast for 2008 predicts prices for food consumed at home to increase 4 to 5 percent.

Get more on the market basket survey on the bureau's Web site at www.wfbf.com.

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