May 21, 2018

Food Security; Crop Insurance; EPA Issues; Trade; Livestock Issues; and Political Notes

Food Security

Dan Morgan reported on Sunday at The Fiscal Times Online that, “It was a wild summer in the wheat and corn ‘pits’ at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange— bad news for a global economy that had been counting on stable food prices to help it ease out of recession.

“Prices started to rise in July as the full extent of a drought-induced Russian harvest disaster became known. Then, on Aug. 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced an embargo on grain exports and prices soared. Russia’s action, along with subpar harvests in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Canada, left a significant hole in the world’s wheat market. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts Russia will export 500 million bushels less this year than in 2009.

The U.S. has had a run of good wheat crops and its stocks are sufficient to prevent shortages for the time being, according to USDA. In August, it predicted an increase of less than 1.5 percent in the Consumer Price Index for food in 2010. But the sudden spike in grain prices has begun to bite. Ethanol refineries, which buy about a third of the U.S. corn crop, felt the pinch as corn prices rose above $5 a bushel — up from $3.25 in early June — partly on concerns that the harvest will fall short of expectations.”