SHARECOMMENTMORE

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The federal government is projecting the record drought gripping half the U.S. will help push food prices up by 3 percent to 4 percent next year.

Figures released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday show that beef prices are expected to see the biggest jump at 4 percent to 5 percent. Dairy product prices are expected to climb 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent. And poultry prices are expected to rise 3 percent to 4 percent.

USDA economist Richard Volpe says these are the agency's first food price projections to factor in the drought. Corn, soybean and other commodity prices are soaring.

Meat and poultry are the most affected because feed prices represent the biggest part of their cost of production. Processed food prices are less affected.