Thursday, October 25, 2012

Food shortage update




We got a crop here in southeast Minnesota, but September was the driest ever recorded.  
Here a combine stirs up enough dust harvesting soybeans to create a fair imitation of 
ground fog.  Well, at least farmers spent almost nothing for crop drying.

Global Food Reserves Have Reached Their Lowest Level In Almost 40 Years

October 16th, 2012

By Michael

For six of the last eleven years the world has consumed more food than it has produced. This year, drought in the United States and elsewhere has put even more pressure on global food supplies than usual. As a result, global food reserves have reached their lowest level in almost 40 years. Experts are warning that if next summer is similar to this summer that it could be enough to trigger a major global food crisis. At this point, the world is literally living from one year to the next. There is simply not much of a buffer left. In the western world, the first place where we are going to notice the impact of this crisis is in the price of food. It is being projected that overall food prices will rise between 5 and 20 percent by the end of this year. It is becoming increasingly clear that the world has reached a tipping point. We aren’t producing enough food for everyone anymore, and food reserves will continue to get lower and lower. Eventually they will be totally gone.

The United Nations has issued an unprecedented warning about the state of global food supplies. According to the UN, global food reserves have not been this low since 1974

World grain reserves are so dangerously low that severe weather in the United States or other food-exporting countries could trigger a major hunger crisis next year, the United Nations has warned.

Failing harvests in the US, Ukraine and other countries this year have eroded reserves to their lowest level since 1974. The US, which has experienced record heatwaves and droughts in 2012, now holds in reserve a historically low 6.5% of the maize that it expects to consume in the next year, says the UN. more

UN warns of looming worldwide food crisis in 2013

• Global grain reserves hit critically low levels
• Extreme weather means climate 'is no longer reliable'
• Rising food prices threaten disaster and unrest

John Vidal  The Observer, 13 October 2012

World grain reserves are so dangerously low that severe weather in the United States or other food-exporting countries could trigger a major hunger crisis next year, the United Nations has warned.

Failing harvests in the US, Ukraine and other countries this year have eroded reserves to their lowest level since 1974. The US, which has experienced record heatwaves and droughts in 2012, now holds in reserve a historically low 6.5% of the maize that it expects to consume in the next year, says the UN.

"We've not been producing as much as we are consuming. That is why stocks are being run down. Supplies are now very tight across the world and reserves are at a very low level, leaving no room for unexpected events next year," said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). With food consumption exceeding the amount grown for six of the past 11 years, countries have run down reserves from an average of 107 days of consumption 10 years ago to under 74 days recently.

Prices of main food crops such as wheat and maize are now close to those that sparked riots in 25 countries in 2008. FAO figures released this week suggest that 870 million people are malnourished and the food crisis is growing in the Middle East and Africa. Wheat production this year is expected to be 5.2% below 2011, with yields of most other crops, except rice, also falling, says the UN.

The figures come as one of the world's leading environmentalists issued a warning that the global food supply system could collapse at any point, leaving hundreds of millions more people hungry, sparking widespread riots and bringing down governments. In a shocking new assessment of the prospects of meeting food needs, Lester Brown, president of the Earth policy research centre in Washington, says that the climate is no longer reliable and the demands for food are growing so fast that a breakdown is inevitable, unless urgent action is taken.

"Food shortages undermined earlier civilisations. We are on the same path. Each country is now fending for itself. The world is living one year to the next," he writes in a new book.

According to Brown, we are seeing the start of a food supply breakdown with a dash by speculators to "grab" millions of square miles of cheap farmland, the doubling of international food prices in a decade, and the dramatic rundown of countries' food reserves.

This year, for the sixth time in 11 years, the world will consume more food than it produces, largely because of extreme weather in the US and other major food-exporting countries. Oxfam last week said that the price of key staples, including wheat and rice, may double in the next 20 years, threatening disastrous consequences for poor people who spend a large proportion of their income on food.

In 2012, according to the FAO, food prices are already at close to record levels, having risen 1.4% in September following an increase of 6% in July.

"We are entering a new era of rising food prices and spreading hunger. Food supplies are tightening everywhere and land is becoming the most sought-after commodity as the world shifts from an age of food abundance to one of scarcity," says Brown. "The geopolitics of food is fast overshadowing the geopolitics of oil." more



Picking corn on the old Veblen farm.  High prices makes this crop golden.  
But the folks who have to buy it to feed their animals, etc. are really hurting.  
The ethanol guys are going under.  Climate change WILL destroy biofuels.  
As much as 35% of this precious crop is designated for ethanol production.  NOT a good idea.  
Meanwhile, the price bubble in land prices continues.

Land sold off and used for biofuels could have fed 1 billion people – report

05 October, 2012

2 million kilometers of foreign purchased land in developing countries is either idle or used for Western biofuel production, according to a British charity. Oxfam's report estimates an area the size of London is sold every six days.

The report states that between 2000 and 2010, 60% of investment in agricultural land by foreign traders occurred in developing countries with hunger problems.

Yet two thirds of those investors plan to export everything they produce. While 60% of deals are to produce crops that can be used for biofuels. Land can also be left idle, as speculators wait for its value to increase.

Oxfam estimates that this land could have fed 1 billion people.
According to the International Land Coalition, an NGO based in Italy, 106 million hectares of land in developing countries has been acquired by foreign investors in a period between 2000-2010, with some disastrous results.

30% of all land in Liberia has been handed out in large scale concessions in the last 5 years, while up to 63% of all available land in Cambodia has been passed on to private companies.

Farmers forced out

Oxfam emphasizes that much of the land sold off was already being used for small scale and subsistence farming or other types of natural resource use.

The report dismissed claims by the World Bank that most of the sold land remains idle, waiting to be developed. In fact most agricultural land deals target quality farm land, particularly land that is irrigated and offers good access to markets.

A 2010 study by the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) – the official monitoring and evaluation body of the World Bank – supported Oxfam’s findings.

It found that 30% of World Bank projects involved involuntary resettlement. The study estimated that 1 million people are involuntarily resettled in projects financed by the World Bank.

In some cases people were violently evicted from their land without consultation or compensation.

Barbara Stocking, Oxfam’s chief executive, told British newspaper the Guardian that, “The rush for land is out of control and some of the world’s poorest people are suffering hunger, violence and greater poverty as a result. The World Bank is in a unique position to help stop land grabs becoming one of the biggest scandals of the century.”

Freeze investments

Oxfam has urged the World Bank to freeze its investments in large scale land acquisitions in poor nations.

In the last decade the World Bank has tripled its support for land projects to $6-$8 billion a year, but it does not provide data on how much of this goes to land acquisition or any connection between lending and conflict in a country.

Oxfam wants the World Bank to make sure that information about land deals is publicly accessible, that communities are informed in advance and have the right to agree to or refuse to participate in projects. more

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