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Kansas City-area farmers, rural communities feel impact of inflation

Farm in Kansas
Posted at 5:41 PM, Jul 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-13 19:27:26-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Inflation is having an impact on many Americans, including people in rural areas.

Inflation increased to its highest levels in over 40 years at 9.1% for June according to new information released from Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to a report from Iowa State University, "rural households are more vulnerable to inflation." The report points to fuel cost as the biggest financial impact.

“In the early ‘80’s, there was a major farm crisis," Tim Gibbons said. "There was a major economic crisis going on and I think we’re seeing similar things in rural communities right now."

Gibbons works with the Missouri Rural Crisis Center and said small family farmers he talked to are struggling.

“Farmers pay retail and sale wholesale," he said. "They’re paying retail prices for all the inputs that go into farming and they’re not seeing much if any increase in the prices that they’re paid.”

Gibbons blamed corporate greed for high-cost farmers and consumers pay and said he wants government action to prevent mergers and monopolies of large companies.

Farmer Lucas Heinen said he has seen some people struggle and the economy is having an impact on him too.

"When we go to the grocery store, when we fill up our gas tank, I know what they’re going through and it’s terrible," he said.

Heinen farms corn and soybeans and said it used to cost him over $300 to fill the fuel tank of his combine. Now, he's paying around $900.

“At $900 a fill-up, you make sure you put the lid on tight because that stuff's expensive," Heinen said.

Inflation rising at 9.1% was a surprise to economist Frank Lenk.

“I thought we’d see a little bit of moderation, not much. I didn’t expect much, but I really thought that maybe energy prices had sort of maxed out, not increasing as fast, but that didn’t occur," he said.

Lenk is with the MId-America Regional Council and said the chances of a recession have increased, but there may be some good news.

“At some point inflation will peak," Lenk said. "It doesn't mean prices will go down, but they won’t increase as much and when that begins to happen the FED may let up on their policy."

Despite an uncertain future, Heinen is not letting a bad economic report card sour his mood.

"I’m optimistic that the best is yet to come, and I’ll think we’ll pull through this, but it’s going to be tough for a while.”

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