NORFOLK -- Cher Bright owns the Old Virginia Ham Shop in Norfolk. Although it is famous for ham, she is watching the the price of bacon and bracing for the effects of the drought of 2012, which killed much of the corn that feeds pigs.
Right now, bacon at the shop is over $8 for 12 ounces. It was about $6 a pound a couple months ago.
"I try to stabilize my prices. Like, I haven't gone up in ham for the last 4 years. It's the same price. It's gone up for me. But I've kept it for my customers so they don't feel it," she says.
Kim Pearman, who lives in the middle of a failed corn field in Illinois, visited the store and describes the conditions in the heartland.
"It was really sad. And my kids give me the hardest time when driving around. I say, 'Look at all of that corn! And to see all of the dead corn!' And my kids are always like 'Mom why are you always bringing up the corn?' Because it affects everyone, from the farmer to people like me who like my ham," Pearman explains.
Bacon comes from pork belly which is a commodity. Since ham is cured, its cost is directly connected to the price of grain.
Bright says regardless of what happens with the price of bacon, she says she's not budging on the cost of her famous Virginia ham before holidays.
Chris Hostetler, an animal scientist on the National Pork Board, says corn farmers believe this is a "one-year" issue. He believes pig farmers may have to find alternate feeds for their pigs. He says sharing the corn market with ethanol since 2006 has changed the market.