Clifford Krauss reported in today’s New York Times that, “Only a year ago, all the stars appeared to be aligned for American farm exports. China and other developing countries were fattening up growing herds of cattle on American corn, and they were importing record amounts of foods to meet the appetite of their expanding middle classes. A drought in Australia meant a shortage of wheat on world markets. The price of dairy products soared across the globe because of shortages.
“Since then, all that has changed.
“The developing countries are slowing their food imports, it is raining again in Australia, and the price of dairy products is slumping. A strengthening dollar in recent months has made United States farm exports less competitive.
“‘What a difference 12 months can make,’ Joseph Glauber, chief economist of the Department of Agriculture, noted in Congressional testimony last week. ‘We have seen prices for most commodities fall 40 to 50 percent from their midyear peaks. The global economic slump has cast a pall on most markets.’”