Agricultural economist Damian Mason is warning that renewed COVID-19 shutdowns will cause higher food prices and a wave of shortages.

“The food processing facilities will really be pushing it because they are already under capacity because they can’t get workers,” Mason, who also owns a farm in Indiana, told Fox Business. “Omicron implications will limit capacity that is already limited and will increase prices due to curtailing supply and may even put a fear jolt into grocery availability (again). The worst thing would be government imposed shutdowns of the facilities because it would spike shortages.”

Mason discussed the threat of “Regu-flation” — defined to the outlet as “when increased operational and production costs, imposed by expanded government regulation, combine with already rampant inflation in the marketplace.”

“The same government that told you food inflation was a mere 5.4% despite evidence to the contrary also told you the pain you’re feeling at the grocery checkout is ‘transitory,’ or temporary,” Mason added. “It’s not. Food prices will continue to accelerate and are likely to outpace the rate of overall inflation due to the reasons I’ve outlined above, none of which are going away. Welcome to the era of ‘Regu-flation,’ where rules and policy make it more expensive to eat.”

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that consumer price inflation in the United States has reached a rate of 6.8% — the largest year-over-year increase since June 1982, as well as the sixth straight month in which inflation remained above 5%. Prices for meat, poultry, and fish have risen by 13.1%, while fruit and vegetable prices have risen by 4%.

In response, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — rather than emphasizing the inflationary impact of Federal Reserve policy or the Democratic Party’s spending agenda — is blaming large grocery store companies for prioritizing profit.

“Giant grocery store chains force high food prices onto American families while rewarding executives & investors with lavish bonuses and stock buybacks. I’m demanding they answer for putting corporate profits over consumers and workers during the pandemic,” the lawmaker tweeted on Monday.

Days earlier, Warren said that “corporate greed” is responsible for a surge in car prices.

“This market concentration has reduced competition, allowing giant corporations to deliver massive returns for shareholders,” Warren wrote in a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. “But it has harmed consumers by enabling these dominant companies to increase prices and underinvest in key capabilities, which has the effect of also reducing product innovation and product quality.”

Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, Warren accused Tyson and other poultry companies of “price fixing,” “excessive consolidation,” and “plain-old corporate greed” as meat prices reached record highs.

“Lack of competition in the poultry industry is allowing these massive companies to squeeze both American consumers and farmers to fuel record corporate profits and payouts to shareholders,” she said in a letter to Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter. “When companies have monopoly power as massive suppliers, they can jack up prices of the goods they sell.”

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