As food costs spiral out of control, government officials are scrambling to find answers.
A May report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that food prices have risen 10.8% since April 2021, the highest 12-month increase in four decades. The rise in food prices across the country is due to a number of factors occurring both at home and abroad.
Both Ukraine and Russia are major international exporters of grains, including corn, wheat and soybeans, as well as other staple foods. The price of these products has skyrocketed due to the war affecting markets all over the world.
“Food prices in the United States are rising because oil to deliver food, the cost of fertilizer, and the cost of planting and harvesting is rising,” Martin Kantor, director of the Long Island Center for Social and Economic Policy. he said in a telephone interview. “All this is connected with inflation, with oil and gas, with the war in Ukraine.”
New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) addressed growing concerns about food prices. He said the state legislature recently passed legislation to eliminate the fuel tax. This, combined with action at the county level, can help offset rising food prices.
“The main thing we’ve been able to do with this newly enacted state budget is to eliminate – at least temporarily, before the end of this year – the 16-cent state fuel tax,” he said. “When you live here, most people need a car to get to their meals, so these rising costs are connected.” He added: “We have also empowered the State Budget Commissioner for Agriculture to sharpen pencils to see what he can do to bring more food to market.”
The Suffolk County Legislature also suspended the fuel tax effective June 1. Combined with state and county measures, Englebright said residents are now seeing a 26-cent drop per gallon of gasoline.
“It is very important that we now focus on channeling the money that we have in the state budget to these communities, not only to help business owners, but also to help residents survive in the process and in this inflation. — Jody Giglio
Despite the elimination of these fuel taxes, prices across the country continue to rise. State Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead) said local residents are being hit particularly hard by the already high cost of living on Long Island.
“We pay the highest taxes and the highest utility rates here on Long Island,” she said. “It is very important that we now focus on channeling the money that we have in the state budget to these communities, not only to help business owners, but also to help residents survive in the process and in this inflation.
The newly enacted state budget offers residents some benefits in the form of direct cash payments through the New York City School Tax Relief Program (STAR). Giglio said she and her colleagues in Albany have allocated an additional $2.2 billion from the state budget and accelerated the delivery of those checks to help residents cope with inflation and rising costs.
“$2.2 billion is for homeowner tax credits,” she said, adding. “This is a one-time check for STAR eligible homeowners for individuals and families. New Yorkers will begin receiving these checks immediately, and they should be operational within the next few weeks.”
It’s hard. We are having a really hard time with food prices and families living in poverty are suffering the most. — Kara Khan
Higher food prices will also have a detrimental effect on food stores. Suffolk County legislator Kara Khan (D-Setauket) expressed concern that rising food prices will only exacerbate existing food insecurity, making it even harder for those in need to eat.
“Food insecurity is a growing problem on Long Island,” she said. “We support several grocery stores in Suffolk. I have been involved in supporting Long Island Cares and Island Harvest in an effort to prevent food waste.” She added: “It’s hard. We’re having a really hard time with food prices, and families living in poverty are the hardest hit.”
“People will inevitably try to make their anguish heard and understood, and one way to do that is to go through the ballot box.” — Steve Englebright
The midterm elections are becoming more important as Long Islanders consider how to get food on the table. At current levels, food spending will be at the top of the priority list for a sizable constituency. Englebright acknowledges that if food prices are not lowered soon, this could have serious consequences for elections at all levels of government this November.
“People will inevitably try to make their anguish be heard and understood, and one way to do that is through the ballot box,” he said. “It’s possible, but I hope the sense of urgency doesn’t require people to use this as the only way to gain a sense of empowerment and optimism in the hope that we can use government tools, as limited as they may be, to help offset some of these costs. and give people the opportunity to put food on the table.”
Kantor confirmed these feelings. He suggests that voters are far more likely to vote for the opposition during times of great tribulation. “The reality is that when people are angry, hungry and unable to work, they usually vote against the actors,” he said. “When everything you touch costs more than you earn, it’s very angry and very frustrating. The poor and the middle class will suffer the most.”