Emerging Food Crisis

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by Minuteman, Apr 18, 2008.


  1. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    I have posted a few articles about this in the "Peak Oil" thread as a lot of this food shortages can be attributed to the spike in fuel prices. But it is really a seperate issue and one that deserves scrutiny and a watchful eye.
    Thus I decided to start a seperate thread for it. As I feel like we will be seeing more and more of these stories in the future. And what affects the rest of the world will eventually affect us all.



    April 18, 2008
    Across Globe, Empty Bellies Bring Rising Anger
    By MARC LACEY
    PORT-Au-PRINCE, Haiti — Hunger bashed in the front gate of Haiti’s presidential palace. Hunger poured onto the streets, burning tires and taking on soldiers and the police. Hunger sent the country’s prime minister packing.

    Haiti’s hunger, that burn in the belly that so many here feel, has become fiercer than ever in recent days as global food prices spiral out of reach, spiking as much as 45 percent since the end of 2006 and turning Haitian staples like beans, corn and rice into closely guarded treasures.

    Saint Louis Meriska’s children ate two spoonfuls of rice apiece as their only meal recently and then went without any food the following day. His eyes downcast, his own stomach empty, the unemployed father said forlornly, "They look at me and say, ‘Papa, I’m hungry,’ and I have to look away. It’s humiliating and it makes you angry."

    That anger is palpable across the globe. The food crisis is not only being felt among the poor but is also eroding the gains of the working and middle classes, sowing volatile levels of discontent and putting new pressures on fragile governments.

    In Cairo, the military is being put to work baking bread as rising food prices threaten to become the spark that ignites wider anger at a repressive government. In Burkina Faso and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, food riots are breaking out as never before. In reasonably prosperous Malaysia, the ruling coalition was nearly ousted by voters who cited food and fuel price increases as their main concerns.

    "It’s the worst crisis of its kind in more than 30 years," said Jeffrey D. Sachs, the economist and special adviser to the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon. "It’s a big deal and it’s obviously threatening a lot of governments. There are a number of governments on the ropes, and I think there’s more political fallout to come."

    Indeed, as it roils developing nations, the spike in commodity prices — the biggest since the Nixon administration — has pitted the globe’s poorer south against the relatively wealthy north, adding to demands for reform of rich nations’ farm and environmental policies. But experts say there are few quick fixes to a crisis tied to so many factors, from strong demand for food from emerging economies like China’s to rising oil prices to the diversion of food resources to make biofuels.

    There are no scripts on how to handle the crisis, either. In Asia, governments are putting in place measures to limit hoarding of rice after some shoppers panicked at price increases and bought up everything they could.

    Even in Thailand, which produces 10 million more tons of rice than it consumes and is the world’s largest rice exporter, supermarkets have placed signs limiting the amount of rice shoppers are allowed to purchase.
    But there is also plenty of nervousness and confusion about how best to proceed and just how bad the impact may ultimately be, particularly as already strapped governments struggle to keep up their food subsidies.
    ‘Scandalous Storm’

    "This is a perfect storm," President Elías Antonio Saca of El Salvador said Wednesday at the World Economic Forum on Latin America in Cancún, Mexico. "How long can we withstand the situation? We have to feed our people, and commodities are becoming scarce. This scandalous storm might become a hurricane that could upset not only our economies but also the stability of our countries."

    In Asia, if Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia steps down, which is looking increasingly likely amid postelection turmoil within his party, he may be that region’s first high- profile political casualty of fuel and food price inflation.

    In Indonesia, fearing protests, the government recently revised its 2008 budget, increasing the amount it will spend on food subsidies by about $280 million.

    "The biggest concern is food riots," said H.S. Dillon, a former adviser to Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture. Referring to small but widespread protests touched off by a rise in soybean prices in January, he said, "It has happened in the past and can happen again."

    Last month in Senegal, one of Africa’s oldest and most stable democracies, police in riot gear beat and used tear gas against people protesting high food prices and later raided a television station that broadcast images of the event. Many Senegalese have expressed anger at President Abdoulaye Wade for spending lavishly on roads and five-star hotels for an Islamic summit meeting last month while many people are unable to afford rice or fish.

    "Why are these riots happening?" asked Arif Husain, senior food security analyst at the World Food Program, which has issued urgent appeals for donations. "The human instinct is to survive, and people are going to do no matter what to survive. And if you’re hungry you get angry quicker."
    Leaders who ignore the rage do so at their own risk. President René Préval of Haiti appeared to taunt the populace as the chorus of complaints about la vie chère — the expensive life — grew. He said if Haitians could afford cellphones, which many do carry, they should be able to feed their families. "If there is a protest against the rising prices," he said, "come get me at the palace and I will demonstrate with you."

    When they came, filled with rage and by the thousands, he huddled inside and his presidential guards, with United Nations peacekeeping troops, rebuffed them. Within days, opposition lawmakers had voted out Mr. Préval’s prime minister, Jacques-Édouard Alexis, forcing him to reconstitute his government. Fragile in even the best of times, Haiti’s population and politics are now both simmering.

    "Why were we surprised?" asked Patrick Élie, a Haitian political activist who followed the food riots in Africa earlier in the year and feared they might come to Haiti. "When something is coming your way all the way from Burkina Faso you should see it coming. What we had was like a can of gasoline that the government left for someone to light a match to it."

    Dwindling Menus
    The rising prices are altering menus, and not for the better. In India, people are scrimping on milk for their children. Daily bowls of dal are getting thinner, as a bag of lentils is stretched across a few more meals.
    Maninder Chand, an auto-rickshaw driver in New Delhi, said his family had given up eating meat altogether for the last several weeks.

    Another rickshaw driver, Ravinder Kumar Gupta, said his wife had stopped seasoning their daily lentils, their chief source of protein, with the usual onion and spices because the price of cooking oil was now out of reach. These days, they eat bowls of watery, tasteless dal, seasoned only with salt.

    Down Cairo’s Hafziyah Street, peddlers selling food from behind wood carts bark out their prices. But few customers can afford their fish or chicken, which bake in the hot sun. Food prices have doubled in two months.

    Ahmed Abul Gheit, 25, sat on a cheap, stained wooden chair by his own pile of rotting tomatoes. "We can’t even find food," he said, looking over at his friend Sobhy Abdullah, 50. Then raising his hands toward the sky, as if in prayer, he said, "May God take the guy I have in mind."
    Mr. Abdullah nodded, knowing full well that the "guy" was President Hosni Mubarak.

    The government’s ability to address the crisis is limited, however. It already spends more on subsidies, including gasoline and bread, than on education and health combined.

    "If all the people rise, then the government will resolve this," said Raisa Fikry, 50, whose husband receives a pension equal to about $83 a month, as she shopped for vegetables. "But everyone has to rise together. People get scared. But we will all have to rise together."

    It is the kind of talk that has prompted the government to treat its economic woes as a security threat, dispatching riot forces with a strict warning that anyone who takes to the streets will be dealt with harshly.
    Niger does not need to be reminded that hungry citizens overthrow governments. The country’s first postcolonial president, Hamani Diori, was toppled amid allegations of rampant corruption in 1974 as millions starved during a drought.

    More recently, in 2005, it was mass protests in Niamey, the Nigerien capital, that made the government sit up and take notice of that year’s food crisis, which was caused by a complex mix of poor rains, locust infestation and market manipulation by traders.

    "As a result of that experience the government created a cabinet-level ministry to deal with the high cost of living," said Moustapha Kadi, an activist who helped organize marches in 2005. "So when prices went up this year the government acted quickly to remove tariffs on rice, which everyone eats. That quick action has kept people from taking to the streets."

    The Poor Eat Mud
    In Haiti, where three-quarters of the population earns less than $2 a day and one in five children is chronically malnourished, the one business booming amid all the gloom is the selling of patties made of mud, oil and sugar, typically consumed only by the most destitute.

    "It’s salty and it has butter and you don’t know you’re eating dirt," said Olwich Louis Jeune, 24, who has taken to eating them more often in recent months. "It makes your stomach quiet down."

    But the grumbling in Haiti these days is no longer confined to the stomach. It is now spray-painted on walls of the capital and shouted by demonstrators.

    In recent days, Mr. Préval has patched together a response, using international aid money and price reductions by importers to cut the price of a sack of rice by about 15 percent. He has also trimmed the salaries of some top officials. But those are considered temporary measures.

    Real solutions will take years. Haiti, its agriculture industry in shambles, needs to better feed itself. Outside investment is the key, although that requires stability, not the sort of widespread looting and violence that the Haitian food riots have fostered.

    Meanwhile, most of the poorest of the poor suffer silently, too weak for activism or too busy raising the next generation of hungry. In the sprawling slum of Haiti’s Cité Soleil, Placide Simone, 29, offered one of her five offspring to a stranger. "Take one," she said, cradling a listless baby and motioning toward four rail-thin toddlers, none of whom had eaten that day. "You pick. Just feed them."



    Behind the Food-Price Riots
    By VINCENT REINHART
    April 18, 2008; Page A17

    With a dramatic rise in the prices of foodstuffs, riots have flared up in dozens of hotspots around the world. Panicky politicians are responding with precisely the wrong policies, including production subsidies and trade controls.

    The problem is clear enough: According to the International Monetary Fund, food and beverage prices have risen 60% in the past three years, and more than doubled since 2001. Even in the U.S., increases in the food-price component of producer- and consumer-price indexes over the last 12 months have been in the neighborhood of 5%.

    What is going on? We can discern four forces at work today pushing up food prices – forces that were also at work in the 1970s, the last time food prices increased so rapidly on a sustained basis:

    - Monetary policy in overdrive. Consider the real federal funds rate – that is, the nominal funds rate less inflation. A low real fed funds rate both encourages interest-rate sensitive spending, such as business investment, and discourages global investors from supporting the dollar on foreign exchange markets. At 2.25%, the nominal fed funds rate is now below the prevailing rate of consumer price inflation.

    The last time the real fed funds rate was negative for a prolonged period was the mid-1970s. This was also a period when overstimulated demand pushed food prices up and the dollar depreciated sharply. In the end, economic growth suffered as well. Remember stagflation?

    - Exchange-rate arrangements in disarray. The 1970s were also noted for turmoil in exchange markets, following the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system. The schism today is that some exchange rates move too little and others too much.

    The exchange rates that are moving too little are those of emerging market economies and oil producers. China, India, Korea and Taiwan, and key oil producers such as Saudi Arabia, have been preventing their exchange rates from appreciating significantly by rapidly accumulating international reserves.

    They've also effectively adopted the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve by keeping their domestic interest rates close to the fed funds rate. That way, no interest-rate wedge opens between their markets and our own that would otherwise put pressure on their exchange rate. As a consequence, they are following an accommodative monetary policy strategy totally unsuited to their already overheated domestic economies. Higher inflation has followed.

    With exchange-rate movements capped by policy makers in so many parts of the world, the burden of adjustment falls more heavily on the nations that allow their currencies to float freely, such as Canada, those in the Euro area, and Japan. The depreciation of the dollar against these currencies is yet another reminder of the 1970s. As a result of these exchange-rate changes, the purchasing power of these regions for any internationally traded good denominated in dollars has gone up. Hence, it is no accident that the dollar price of food is up sharply.

    - Unsound market interventions. Policy makers flailed about in the 1970s, enacting environmental legislation without due deference to the costs imposed on industry. They also tried to impede market forces with gasoline rationing and a brief flirtation with outright price controls.

    This time round, our government has been force-feeding the inefficient production of ethanol. The result: Corn prices have more than doubled over the past three years, adding to price pressures on commodities that are close substitutes, or which use corn as an input to production.

    Meanwhile, policy makers in emerging market economies have bent under the weight of popular unrest to raise food subsidies. This strains their budgets. They are also imposing restraints on exports, thereby losing gains from trade.

    - Oil prices on the rise. The lines stretching around filling stations in the 1970s should remind us that large energy-price increases are disruptive. And we have had a large one: Crude prices have more than quadrupled since 2001. Any industry dependent on energy will feel those cost pressures, and modern agriculture, with its oil-based fertilizers and large machinery, is no exception.

    But there is an important difference between our troubles today and those of the 1970s. In that decade, aggregate supply sagged as oil producers scaled back production and anchovies disappeared off the coast of Peru. The 2000s have been about demand expansion. Millions of workers in China, India and Vietnam, among others, have joined the world trading system. Beginning from a point close to subsistence, most of their additional income is being spent on food. Thus, the price of food relative to other goods and services has risen.

    The good news is that producers respond to relative prices, although it can take some time. Already, the acreage in which corn is planted in the United States is back to levels of the 1940s. More of a production response should follow in other areas as well.

    Challenges abound as supply catches up with higher global demand. The Federal Reserve has to be sensitive not to stoke inflation pressures, and to monitor inflation expectations closely. The subsidies proffered to corn producers have to be trimmed, in part to set a new standard for emerging market economies to emulate. And the gains from an open trading system have to be protected to keep our economy efficient.

    Mr. Reinhart, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, was director of the Division of Monetary Affairs at the Federal Reserve.






    Asia Teeters Toward Food Crisis from Lack of Water
    By Daniel Pepper, AlterNet
    Posted on April 17, 2008, Printed on April 18, 2008
    http://www.alternet.org/story/82225/

    Just before dusk on the central plain of India's northern Punjab state Naresh Kumar, 22, crouches under drill and sprinkles mustard oil, turmeric, raw sugar and confections inside a 10-inch circle traced in the rich soil. Hands clasped and head bowed, he offers a short prayer to a Sufi saint asking for a bountiful supply of groundwater. He then cranks up his coughing and wheezing diesel engine, lines up the tube well drill over the offerings and releases a lever that brings an iron cylinder crashing into the earth, turning a parcel of India's fertile breadbasket into Swiss cheese.

    "Business is growing by the year," says Kumar. "But we've placed about as many tube wells as we can in this area." As the water table in Punjab drops dangerously low farmers across the state are investing heavily -- and often going into debt -- to bore deeper wells and install more powerful pumps. On either side of Kumar's drill the calm beauty of emerald rice patties belies a quiet catastrophe brewing hundreds of feet beneath the surface. A prayer might be this region's best chance for survival.

    India's groundwater woes are, in places, at crisis levels. But the problem is not confined to a few corners of the subcontinent; groundwater depletion is a major threat to food security and economic stability in China, the US, Mexico, Spain and parts of North Africa -- just to name a few. All of these regions are grappling with the problems inherent in extracting groundwater from deep below the earth's surface.

    But the problem is most acute in India for two reasons: the country has long prided itself on being self-sufficient (not importing food) and because in this messy democracy free electricity is provided to farmers to win votes. Punjab, a wealthy state favored by the central government in New Delhi is just 1.5 percent of India's total landmass, but its annual output of rice and wheat contribute 50 percent of the grain the government purchases for its food distribution programs that feed over 400 million poor Indians. Experts are now saying that the 375-foot deep tube well and 7.5 horsepower pump Naresh Kumar's installs for a local sharecropper is at the eye of a storm that threatens India's food security, environmental health, and economic progress.

    "We have depleted the ground water to such an extent that it is devastating the country," says Dr. Gurdev Hira, an expert on soil and water quality at the Punjab Agriculture University. Dr. Hira estimates that the energy used in subsidizing rice production alone costs the state of Punjab US $381 million a year.

    Dr. Hira and other experts warn that if left unchecked this system will bleed state budgets, parch aquifers and run small farmers out of business. Though the pace of growth in its cities has put India in the limelight, over 60 percent of the economy is directly or indirectly engaged in agriculture with more than two out of three Indians living in the rural areas.

    In China, the agricultural use of groundwater has skyrocketed, and the fall in water tables has created a potential environmental catastrophe. "The breadbasket of China -- north of the Yellow River -- have millions of people dependent on groundwater," says David Molden, Deputy Director General at the International Water Management Institute in Colombo, Sri Lanka. With the water table dropping in many places across China at a rate approaching or exceeding 1.5 meters a year, "It's sitting there like a time bomb," says Molden.

    Aside from India and China, the two other regions where groundwater depletion is at its worst is perhaps North Africa and the Middle East, where groundwater extraction depletes aquifers that are not annually recharged. In India the problem is exacerbated by the fact that farmers in three states -- Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh -- pay nothing for electricity -- throughout India farmers' electricity is either heavily subsidized or completely free. So farmers run their pump sets with abandon, which further depletes the water table. Any farmer with the cash or collateral invests in larger, heavy-duty, power-hungry pumps capable of withstanding the grid's voltage fluctuations and frequent brown-outs.

    "All these issues are interconnected: water, electricity and agriculture," says Saurabh Kumar, who heads up the government's Bureau of Energy Efficiency in New Delhi. "But agreeing on a simple thing is asking for the moon." That is exactly what he hopes to do: get politicians, farmers and bureaucrats all to sign onto a set of reforms that will save billions of dollars for the farmers, state and central government, and reduce the amount of water pumped (some say unnecessarily) out of the ground.

    A pilot program for Kumar's nation-wide scheme is set to launch in the next three months. Farmers will receive new, efficient ground water pump sets, with meters, for which the farmers would receive pre-paid electricity credits allowing them to draw roughly the same amount of water they use now, allowing them to either pocket the savings if they pump less or pay to pump more. The utilities will upgrade their transmission and distribution lines to cut losses and improve service.

    The program comes at considerable cost (US $7.5 billion altogether), even greater savings (US $2.2 billion per year) and includes a considerable amount of private investment. Kumar is realistic about the challenges ahead. Unlike many academics and policy wonks who simply say the answer to India's ground water and energy woes is to charge farmers the real cost of electricity, he realizes that, "for political reasons for the next 50 years you cannot charge for energy in the agriculture sector. There would be riots."

    Farmers say they would be happy to pay for electricity if it were constant, consistent and didn't burn out their pumps. Except for receiving free power four years ago Darshan Singh, 55, has seen little change in government policies or investment in the last fifteen years. "Water. Managing water is the biggest problem we have," he seethes through gritty yellow teeth ground down to the size of small kernels. "This problem doesn't just have to do with farmers -- it effects everyone. If we don't have water it's the general population that will suffer."

    Singh has nine-and-a-half fingers on his thick hands, a stocky frame and a salt-and-pepper beard. He manages twenty-five acres of wheat and rice, the main crop rotation of Punjab, on land that has been in his family for generations. Like farmers across Punjab and the rest of India, Singh disparages the subsidies he ostensibly benefits from and says that he is happy to pay for electricity, as long as "it's the correct voltage and there are no fluctuations."

    The profusion of pump sets and tube wells for extracting ground water is also a result of the lack of infrastructure investment in rural areas by the central government. "No new irrigation potential has been created for about 20 years now. The state prefers to dole out subsidies rather than make capital investments," says Mohan Guruswamy, who heads the Centre for Policy Alternative, a New Delhi think tank. Furthermore, Guruswamy also points out, unlike under the British, farmers' produce in India is not taxed "so the rationale for [government] investing has gone."

    The government's introduction of hybrid seeds, agrochemicals, tractors and irrigation in the 1950s and 60s, during India's "green revolution" meant for the first time farmers were feeding the rest of the country, not just themselves and their families. As India's rice yields went up the country stopped importing grain (self-sufficiency being a core point of Gandhi political philosophy) the country never again faced the prospect of a devastating famine, as it did in the mid-1940s, claiming 4 million lives.
    But as the cost of electricity went up in the 1970s, 80s and 90s the state utilities simply ate the costs. Theft from the cheap, inefficient, long-distance and low-voltage power lines as well as corruption in the electricity boards led to a quickly antiquated, dilapidated network, especially in eastern India, which is abundant in groundwater. Back then India had only 200,000 electric pumps; today it has 12 million, and an additional 8 million diesel pumps.

    Like so much else in the country, the government is trying to catch up with the pace of growth and investment in the private sector without making hard choices (like charging farmers according to the amount of power they use) and disenfranchising voters accustomed to government support. China has 4.5 million pumps and the United States 200,000. But India's pumps are less than half as efficient China's and only 1.8 percent as efficient as those in the United States, according to Tushaar Shah, a chief scientist with the International Water Management Institute in Gujarat.

    India's power sector looses US $8-9 billion annually subsidizing farmers' use of electric pump sets. That's half of what the country spends on health and twice what it spends on education. In a country with child malnutrition rates worse than those of sub-Saharan Africa, experts are starting to question the wisdom of the system.

    "These subsidies hit very hard at health, education and other government programs, and they are being taken by a few select farmers," says Bharat Sharma, with the International Water Management Institute in New Delhi. The power utility covers the cost of electricity through cross-subsidies from industry, by dipping into the state coffers and by getting bailed out by the central government in New Delhi. Power sales to agriculture are one-third the total electricity consumption in the top agricultural-producing states, but it's less than a tenth of the cost recovered. "It's one classic example of bad economic policies having very serious environmental consequences." Says Shreekant Gupta, a professor of economics at Delhi University.

    But other options are available, ranging from different discharge systems such as drip tubes, sprinklers and more efficient pumps to different models of convening stakeholders. Spain is currently experimenting with a communal model of groundwater management in which groups of individuals have to collectively decide how to utilize a court-ordered quota of water.

    And in India Dr Rajendra Singh, known as the Rain Man of Rajasthan, has already shown 1,058 villages how to collect and harvest rainwater so that parched areas can blossom. By building earthen structures at low cost where the aquifer reaches the surface villagers have been able to collect rainwater and once again make an arid climate hospitable. Says David Molden, with the Institute for Water Resource Management "you've got to get the communities involved, groups of people talking to each other recognizing they've got a problem and regulating the groundwater use."

    Daniel Pepper is a writer and photojournalist whose work has appeared in Time, Newsweek, Fortune, the New York Times Magazine and others.


     
  2. ozarkgoatman

    ozarkgoatman Resident goat herder

    It's only a matter of time. Our green house will be expanded this year, so will our chicken coop. Next year we will build a new barn, our goat herd is getting expanded in about 2 weeks. Garden is always being expanded. I have told WG for the last few years that one way or another there is going to be a mass culling of people. IMHO the fan is kicking into high gear waiting for manure to be thrown into the mix. [shtf]

    OGM
     
  3. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    Biofuels under attack as world food prices soar
    by Marlowe HoodSun Apr 20, 5:36 AM ET

    Hailed until only months ago as a silver bullet in the fight against global warming, biofuels are now accused of snatching food out of the mouths of the poor.

    Billions have been poured into developing sugar- and grain-based ethanol and biodiesel to help wean rich economies from their addiction to carbon-belching fossil fuels, the overwhelming source of man-made global warming.

    Heading the rush are the United States, Brazil and Canada, which are eagerly transforming corn, wheat, soy beans and sugar cane into cleaner-burning fuel, and the European Union (EU) is to launch its own ambitious programme.

    But as soaring prices for staples bring more of the planet's most vulnerable people face-to-face with starvation, the image of biofuels has suddenly changed from climate saviour to a horribly misguided experiment.
    On Friday, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said biofuels "posed a real moral problem" and called for a moratorium on using food crops to power cars, trucks and buses.

    The vital problem of global warming "has to be balanced with the fact that there are people who are going to starve to death," said Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

    "Producing biofuels is a crime against humanity," the UN's special rapporteur for the right to food, Jean Ziegler of Switzerland, said earlier.
    Biofuels may still be in their infancy but they are growing rapidly, with annual production leaping by double-digit percentages.

    In a speech on Wednesday that set down a target for reducing US carbon emissions, George W. Bush pointed to legislation requiring US producers to supply at least 36 billion gallons (136 billion litres) of renewable fuel by 2020.

    In 2007, 20 percent of grain -- 81 million tonnes -- produced in the United States was used to make ethanol, according to US think tank the Earth Policy Institute, which predicts that the percentage will jump to nearly a quarter this year.

    "We are looking at a five-fold increase in renewable fuel," Bush's top climate change advisor, Jim Connaughton, said in Paris on Thursday at a meeting of the world's major greenhouse-gas polluters.

    But more than half of that legislatively-mandated production would come from "second-generation" biofuels made from non-food sources such as switchgrass and wood byproducts, he said.

    The EU's and the Brazilian delegates in Paris contested the link between biofuels and the world food crisis.

    "This is highly exaggerated," Sergio Serra, Brazil's ambassador for climate change, told AFP.

    "There is no real relation of cause and effect between the expansion of the production of biofuels and the raising of food prices. At least it is not happening in Brazil."

    EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said experts would report back by the end of May on how to guarantee that Europe's planned biofuel boost would not impinge on the environment or the poor.
    "There are a lot of concerns about social impacts, rising food prices and environment issues, and for all those reasons we want to insist on sustainability criteria in our legislation," he said.

    Defenders of biofuels say food shortfalls have multiple causes, including a growing appetite for meat among the burgeoning middle class in China and India.

    On average, it takes more than four kilos (eight pounds) of grain to produce one kilo (two pounds) of pork, and two kilos (four pounds) of grain to yield a kilo (two pounds) of beef.

    Climate change may well be a contributing factor.

    Some scientists fear rising temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns may be worsening water scarcity in key agriculture areas such Australia's wheat belt, and rice-growing deltas may be hit by saline intrusion from rising seas.

    In addition, the surging cost of oil has had an indirect impact on many poor people, adding to the pinch caused by rising food prices.
     
  4. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    Food Rationing Confronts Breadbasket of the World

    By JOSH GERSTEIN, Staff Reporter of the Sun | April 21, 2008

    MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Many parts of America, long considered the breadbasket of the world, are now confronting a once unthinkable phenomenon: food rationing.

    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    • <!-- AddThis Bookmark Button BEGIN --> [​IMG] <script type="text/javascript">var addthis_pub = 'nysun';</script><script type="text/javascript" src="http://s9.addthis.com/js/widget.php?v=10"></script> <!-- AddThis Bookmark Button END -->
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]

    [​IMG]ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty
    Click to enlarge>
    Rice is stored at a National Food Authority warehouse at Manila, the Philippines, on April 17.

    Major retailers in New York, in areas of New England, and on the West Coast are limiting purchases of flour, rice, and cooking oil as demand outstrips supply. There are also anecdotal reports that some consumers are hoarding grain stocks.
    At a Costco Warehouse in Mountain View, Calif., yesterday, shoppers grew frustrated and occasionally uttered expletives as they searched in vain for the large sacks of rice they usually buy.
    “Where’s the rice?” an engineer from Palo Alto, Calif., Yajun Liu, said. “You should be able to buy something like rice. This is ridiculous.”
    The bustling store in the heart of Silicon Valley usually sells four or five varieties of rice to a clientele largely of Asian immigrants, but only about half a pallet of Indian-grown Basmati rice was left in stock. A 20-pound bag was selling for $15.99.
    “You can’t eat this every day. It’s too heavy,” a health care executive from Palo Alto, Sharad Patel, grumbled as his son loaded two sacks of the Basmati into a shopping cart. “We only need one bag but I’m getting two in case a neighbor or a friend needs it,” the elder man said.
    The Patels seemed headed for disappointment, as most Costco members were being allowed to buy only one bag. Moments earlier, a clerk dropped two sacks back on the stack after taking them from another customer who tried to exceed the one-bag cap.
    “Due to the limited availability of rice, we are limiting rice purchases based on your prior purchasing history,” a sign above the dwindling supply said.
    Shoppers said the limits had been in place for a few days, and that rice supplies had been spotty for a few weeks. A store manager referred questions to officials at Costco headquarters near Seattle, who did not return calls or e-mail messages yesterday.
    An employee at the Costco store in Queens said there were no restrictions on rice buying, but limits were being imposed on purchases of oil and flour. Internet postings attributed some of the shortage at the retail level to bakery owners who flocked to warehouse stores when the price of flour from commercial suppliers doubled.
    The curbs and shortages are being tracked with concern by survivalists who view the phenomenon as a harbinger of more serious trouble to come.
    “It’s sporadic. It’s not every store, but it’s becoming more commonplace,” the editor of SurvivalBlog.com, James Rawles, said. “The number of reports I’ve been getting from readers who have seen signs posted with limits has increased almost exponentially, I’d say in the last three to five weeks.”
    Spiking food prices have led to riots in recent weeks in Haiti, Indonesia, and several African nations. India recently banned export of all but the highest quality rice, and Vietnam blocked the signing of new contract for foreign rice sales.
    “I’m surprised the Bush administration hasn’t slapped export controls on wheat,” Mr. Rawles said. “The Asian countries are here buying every kind of wheat.”
    Mr. Rawles said it is hard to know how much of the shortages are due to lagging supply and how much is caused by consumers hedging against future price hikes or a total lack of product.
    “There have been so many stories about worldwide shortages that it encourages people to stock up. What most people don’t realize is that supply chains have changed, so inventories are very short,” Mr. Rawles, a former Army intelligence officer, said. “Even if people increased their purchasing by 20%, all the store shelves would be wiped out.”
    At the moment, large chain retailers seem more prone to shortages and limits than do smaller chains and mom-and-pop stores, perhaps because store managers at the larger companies have less discretion to increase prices locally.
    Mr. Rawles said the spot shortages seemed to be most frequent in the Northeast and all the way along the West Coast. He said he had heard reports of buying limits at Sam’s Club warehouses, which are owned by Wal-Mart Stores, but a spokesman for the company, Kory Lundberg, said he was not aware of any shortages or limits.
    An anonymous high-tech professional writing on an investment Web site, Seeking Alpha, said he recently bought 10 50-pound bags of rice at Costco. “I am concerned that when the news of rice shortage spreads, there will be panic buying and the shelves will be empty in no time. I do not intend to cause a panic, and I am not speculating on rice to make profit. I am just hoarding some for my own consumption,” he wrote.
    For now, rice is available at Asian markets in California, though consumers have fewer choices when buying the largest bags. “At our neighborhood store, it’s very expensive, more than $30” for a 25-pound bag, a housewife from Mountain View, Theresa Esquerra, said. “I’m not going to pay $30. Maybe we’ll just eat bread.”
     
  5. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Food Rationing Confronts Breadbasket of the World

    By JOSH GERSTEIN, Staff Reporter of the Sun | April 21, 2008


    http://nysun.com/news/food-rationing-confronts-breadbasket-world

    MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Many parts of America, long considered the breadbasket of the world, are now confronting a once unthinkable phenomenon: food rationing.

    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    • <!-- AddThis Bookmark Button BEGIN --> [​IMG] <script type="text/javascript">var addthis_pub = 'nysun';</script><script type="text/javascript" src="http://s9.addthis.com/js/widget.php?v=10"></script> <!-- AddThis Bookmark Button END -->
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]

    Major retailers in New York, in areas of New England, and on the West Coast are limiting purchases of flour, rice, and cooking oil as demand outstrips supply. There are also anecdotal reports that some consumers are hoarding grain stocks.
    At a Costco Warehouse in Mountain View, Calif., yesterday, shoppers grew frustrated and occasionally uttered expletives as they searched in vain for the large sacks of rice they usually buy.
    “Where’s the rice?” an engineer from Palo Alto, Calif., Yajun Liu, said. “You should be able to buy something like rice. This is ridiculous.”
    The bustling store in the heart of Silicon Valley usually sells four or five varieties of rice to a clientele largely of Asian immigrants, but only about half a pallet of Indian-grown Basmati rice was left in stock. A 20-pound bag was selling for $15.99.
    “You can’t eat this every day. It’s too heavy,” a health care executive from Palo Alto, Sharad Patel, grumbled as his son loaded two sacks of the Basmati into a shopping cart. “We only need one bag but I’m getting two in case a neighbor or a friend needs it,” the elder man said.
    The Patels seemed headed for disappointment, as most Costco members were being allowed to buy only one bag. Moments earlier, a clerk dropped two sacks back on the stack after taking them from another customer who tried to exceed the one-bag cap.
    “Due to the limited availability of rice, we are limiting rice purchases based on your prior purchasing history,” a sign above the dwindling supply said.
    Shoppers said the limits had been in place for a few days, and that rice supplies had been spotty for a few weeks. A store manager referred questions to officials at Costco headquarters near Seattle, who did not return calls or e-mail messages yesterday.
    An employee at the Costco store in Queens said there were no restrictions on rice buying, but limits were being imposed on purchases of oil and flour. Internet postings attributed some of the shortage at the retail level to bakery owners who flocked to warehouse stores when the price of flour from commercial suppliers doubled.
    The curbs and shortages are being tracked with concern by survivalists who view the phenomenon as a harbinger of more serious trouble to come.
    “It’s sporadic. It’s not every store, but it’s becoming more commonplace,” the editor of SurvivalBlog.com, James Rawles, said. “The number of reports I’ve been getting from readers who have seen signs posted with limits has increased almost exponentially, I’d say in the last three to five weeks.”
    Spiking food prices have led to riots in recent weeks in Haiti, Indonesia, and several African nations. India recently banned export of all but the highest quality rice, and Vietnam blocked the signing of new contract for foreign rice sales.
    “I’m surprised the Bush administration hasn’t slapped export controls on wheat,” Mr. Rawles said. “The Asian countries are here buying every kind of wheat.”
    Mr. Rawles said it is hard to know how much of the shortages are due to lagging supply and how much is caused by consumers hedging against future price hikes or a total lack of product.
    “There have been so many stories about worldwide shortages that it encourages people to stock up. What most people don’t realize is that supply chains have changed, so inventories are very short,” Mr. Rawles, a former Army intelligence officer, said. “Even if people increased their purchasing by 20%, all the store shelves would be wiped out.”
    At the moment, large chain retailers seem more prone to shortages and limits than do smaller chains and mom-and-pop stores, perhaps because store managers at the larger companies have less discretion to increase prices locally.
    Mr. Rawles said the spot shortages seemed to be most frequent in the Northeast and all the way along the West Coast. He said he had heard reports of buying limits at Sam’s Club warehouses, which are owned by Wal-Mart Stores, but a spokesman for the company, Kory Lundberg, said he was not aware of any shortages or limits.
    An anonymous high-tech professional writing on an investment Web site, Seeking Alpha, said he recently bought 10 50-pound bags of rice at Costco. “I am concerned that when the news of rice shortage spreads, there will be panic buying and the shelves will be empty in no time. I do not intend to cause a panic, and I am not speculating on rice to make profit. I am just hoarding some for my own consumption,” he wrote.
    For now, rice is available at Asian markets in California, though consumers have fewer choices when buying the largest bags. “At our neighborhood store, it’s very expensive, more than $30” for a 25-pound bag, a housewife from Mountain View, Theresa Esquerra, said. “I’m not going to pay $30. Maybe we’ll just eat bread.”
     
  6. Tracy

    Tracy Insatiably Curious Moderator Founding Member

    Is anyone paying attention to the price tags on your local grocery shelves?

    Just yesterday, I went and checked prices and noticed that the date the shelf price tag was printed is on it. Quite a few items have increased since the first of April. Others haven't changed since December. It'll be interesting to watch.
     
  7. BuckBall

    BuckBall Woman Hater

    Seeing that my folks live next to an amish farm, they get a full cow for only $233...they take half (which lasts a full year and a half) and give me the other half for $100. With the deer and turkeys I hunt, I can be stocked for a good long time. I don't know how big cities work, but buying a full or half a cow saves in the long run. My grocery bill use to run close to $150 a week, but since having enough meet and veggies in the summer/autumn, I'm down to $60-75 a week.
     
  8. groovy mike

    groovy mike Immortal

    You are getting a bargain buckball.
     
  9. BuckBall

    BuckBall Woman Hater

    Yes I am :). Since I'm not attached, I only have one mouth to feed, which really makes it easy on the wallet. My neighbors cooked up some maple syrup and gave me 3 gallons for a whopping charge of $0 and my sister sent me 2 more quarts. If only I enjoyed pancakes.
     
  10. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    GENEVA - The Red Cross warned Tuesday of a possible surge in "food-related violence" because of soaring prices that are increasing hunger around the world.

    Most of the debate surrounding the global food crisis has focused on boosting aid to poorer countries, but there is also concern about the potential for violence as people become desperate for food, said Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
    Kellenberger, whose agency serves as the guardian of the Geneva Conventions on the rules of war, said fallout from rising prices has already sparked violence, alluding to food riots that erupted in Haiti, Egypt and Somalia.

    The Red Cross would have to shoulder a big responsibility for those affected by armed conflict, Kellenberger said. The group already delivers food to isolated or dangerous places where the United Nations' World Food Program can't operate, he said.

    "You can imagine when you have countries where you have already an armed conflict, where you have already a high level of violence, and you have at the same time a lot of poor and extremely vulnerable people," Kellenberger told reporters.

    It's not just a matter of higher prices, he said. "It becomes a question of survival, of just having access to food."

    The Red Cross has already been forced to add more than $60 million worth of food assistance to its planned budget for 2008. It has revamped the budget six times this year — three times to provide greater food aid in Somalia, Sudan's Darfur region and Yemen.

    In total, the group plans to spend just over $1 billion on its relief operations around the world in 2008 and an additional $156 million on administrative costs.

    Kellenberger stressed that his concern about food violence was mainly about the "future risk," but he declined to say which parts of the world he considered possible trouble spots.

    "If I had them in mind, it would not be extremely intelligent if I were to mention them," he said.
     
  11. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. food prices will rise a stiff 9 percent a year through 2012, the largest increase since 1979 and the result of record-high crop prices, the head of an economic consulting company said on Thursday.

    The projections by Bill Lapp of Advanced Economic Solutions are higher than the latest U.S. Agriculture Department forecast of 5 percent for this year. USDA and Lapp have increased their estimates by 1.5 percentage points since February.

    During a telephone news conference, Lapp said he was completing a new analysis of food and commodity prices. He foresaw average corn prices of $5.25 a bushel through 2012, with wheat around $6.50 and soybeans near $11.

    "When I do that analysis and look at the relationship between that and food prices, I get a 2008-12 average annual rate of increase in the consumer price index for food of 9.0 percent," he said.
    Lapp was chief economist for ConAgra Foods Inc, one of the largest U.S. foodmakers, before opening his consulting firm which is based in Omaha, Nebraska.

    A 9 percent increase would be the largest since 11 percent in 1979. Lapp spoke during a teleconference sponsored by the Environmental Working Group.

    Americans spend more than $1 trillion a year on groceries, snacks, carry-out food and meals at restaurants.

    Food prices rose by 4 percent during 2007, says USDA, ending a long stretch when food price inflation stayed below the overall U.S. inflation rate. Lapp puts the 2007 increase at 4.9 percent. He initially forecast an increase of 7.5 percent this year and through 2012.

    Ephraim Leibtag, the USDA economist who tracks food prices, said separately that grocery prices traditionally reflect a small fraction of upswings in grain prices. "The question ... is how much and how quick" grocery prices are adjusted due to higher prices for raw materials, he said.

    A 50 percent increase in corn prices was likely to result in a 1 percent increase in food prices, he said in February.

    Lapp said crop prices will plateau at higher levels than prevailed through 2006, due to factors that include global economic growth, geopolitical uncertainties, the weak U.S. dollar, China's larger role in the world economy and the use of food to produce fuel.

    With sustained higher crop prices, the food industry will raise prices in coming years to maintain profit margins, Lapp has argued for the past few months.

    During the teleconference, Lapp and Keith Collins, the former USDA chief economist, said corn, wheat and soybean supplies would remain tight for the next few years and market prices would be high.

    "There is virtually no cushion" to offset a poor harvest, said Collins, who is now a consultant.

    USDA has predicted that prices of cereals and bakery products will zoom by 8 percent this year, and that eggs and fats and oils also will go up in price. Increases are expected in 2009 for meat, poultry and fish.
     
survivalmonkey SSL seal        survivalmonkey.com warrant canary
17282WuJHksJ9798f34razfKbPATqTq9E7