Been on the bread line yet? Food crisis sneaks up on world.

(WRITING IN THE RAW essay pick… – promoted by pfiore8)

    Cross-posted on Orange

Today I learned the news. The world already has a food crisis, an enormous problem, possible social upheavals, perhaps even  a “perfect storm.” Add that to your gas tank!

I’d heard bits about grain prices for a while, been shocked at prices of bread, eggs, flour and cheese–even soup! Silly me, I thought I could stock upon a few items and make do. Just about everything is going up and not just a little. I try not to panic but it’s not easy living on a small fixed income since I rather like to eat.

Frightening implications abound for the poorest of the poor the world over as a new UN Report makes clear. There’s a lot happening that we do not hear about from our pathetic media. Just as one woman says she knew she was poor, but “this is worse than poverty,” a UN official says watch for the “new face of hunger.”

Follow below for a little tour, a tiny glimpse of what’s going on, if you dare, if you care.

Rising rice price hits Asia’s poor

But from Bangladesh to the Philippines, from India to Indonesia, the squeeze is bad news as they seek to balance cost with the imperatives of feeding hungry populations and averting social chaos.

“Every Asian government is well aware of the close relationship between political stability and the stability of the rice price,” said Jonathan Pincus, the UN Development Programme’s chief economist in Vietnam…

At the end of last month, Thailand’s benchmark rice was trading at more than US$500 a tonne, a rise of more than US$100 from a month earlier and up from just US$325 a year ago.

Food prices are rising from Peru to Japan.

IrGene Belem, a 25-year-old with twins, struggles to buy milk, which has gone up 57 percent in recent weeks. “We knew we were poor before,” she said, “but now it’s worse than poverty.”

Food costs worldwide spiked 23 percent from 2006 to 2007, according to the FAO. Grains went up 42 percent, oils 50 percent and dairy 80 percent.”

Egyptian Army tasked now with baking bread.

‘A revolution of the hungry’ As world food prices soar

Food costs worldwide spiked 23% from 2006 to 2007, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Grains went up 42%, oils 50% and dairy 80%. snip “All countries are tied enough to the world food markets that this is a global crisis.

Is there any bread for my family today?

Back at the bakery, Fatma sighs as she stares at the raucous crowd pushing and shoving to get closer to the front.  She shakes her head and moves into line, saying under her breath, “May God have mercy on the poor.”

Food riots in……West Africa

Thailand Thailand: Soaring Rice Prices Force Drastic Cuts In Food Aid To Myanmar Refugees

Part of a surge in worldwide food prices, rice has increased by 50% in the past two months and some experts predict further hikes of up to 40%. Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar continues to slide against the Thai baht currency. “This is a very vulnerable group of people under threat.”

It’s the first time the World Food Program had an emergency appeal based on a “market-generated” crisis rapid price increases of 55%.

World Food Program issues ’emergency appeal’ for funds

The World Food Program called on donor nations for urgent help in closing a funding gap of more than $500 million by May 1. If money doesn’t arrive by then…the WFP may be forced to cut food rations “for those who rely on the world to stand by them during times of abject need. The poorest face hunger as people around the world are being “priced out of the food market.”

Citing food prices that had ballooned 55% since June (2007 and an

additional 20% since Feb. 25), the WFP disclosed a $500-million shortfall Feb. 25, and the gap has continued to grow ever since, Sheeran said…. The Rome-based WFP feeds at least 73 million people in nearly 80 nations with an annual operating budget of $2.9 billion. “We’ve never quite had a situation where aggressive rises in food prices keep pricing operations out of our reach,” Sheeran said.

The (US accounts) for about 40% of the agency’s food and money donations, (but)…U.S. officials have already warned that it is likely they will be cutting donations to global humanitarian organizations because of higher costs.

Soaring oil prices and the rising cost of living have driven nearly four million people in the Philippines back into poverty, officials said Wednesday. The number of Filipinos living on just one dollar a day rose from 23.8 million in 2003 to 27.6 million in 2006…. One in three Filipinos are now living in poverty despite the modest economic gains in recent years.

wheat prices chills festival buns this year.


Philippine rice shortage seen as prices surge – Mar-12Coffee price rise filters down to public – Mar-05Twenty-year high in rice prices sparks fears – Mar-04India moves to protect staple supplies – Mar-04Editorial Comment: Biofuels will not feed the hungry – Feb-25Indonesia warns of unrest as food prices rise – Feb-27

Rising Costs Force Food Up the Political Agenda

John Beddington, Britain’s chief scientific adviser, had been in his job for just two months when he outlined an unnerving scenario for his new employers. The world, he argued earlier this month, faced an enormous problem – one on a par with climate change – that policymakers were nonetheless ignoring: food security.

As prices for agricultural commodities, from wheat to milk, have surged globally with unprecedented speed, social unrest and hunger have emerged in different parts of the world, challenging rich and poor countries alike and forcing governments to consider a variety of measures to bring prices down.
Long subject only to the disciplines of the market, producers now increasingly find themselves contending with higher import tariffs, export bans and price freezes. snip

“This is a key political issue that is about every country,” says Lennart B├ąge, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the United Nations organisation set up to finance agricultural development projects.

UPI editor emeritus, Martin Walker, summed up the food crisis this way: “The world is heading into a perfect storm.”

The coming food crisis……

“In some of these developing countries, prices have gone up 80 percent for staple food,” Sheeran said, adding her agency’s budget was soaring by millions of dollars a week. “If food is twice as expensive, we can bring half as much in for the same price and the same contribution.”

This problem is not going to be easily resolved because the world faces the double threat of a long-term trend of rising demand in conditions of tightly constrained supply. There are already limits to the availability of arable land and severe pressures on water supplies, and climate change seems to be exacerbating both. The world is heading into a perfect storm.

The price movements tell the story. Soybean prices in the United States have jumped from $5.72 in 2004 to $10.60 now. Wheat sold for $3.01 a bushel in 2004 and is now over $7.50, with prices for March delivery being quoted at $10.50 a bushel. Spring wheat prices were trading last week at $18.

World grain reserves are at their lowest levels since records were first kept back in 1960, and the U.S. stockpile had not been this low since 1948.

We may not yet have bread lines but it’s going to be tough on every single or family that has to watch their wallet. Back in 1970 we spent almost 20% of our money on food, but by 2006 it was only 12.6. Well, that’s going up now. The dollar is weak. There’s been a lot of serious drought and biofuel demand have shifted some growing patterns.

wheat prices doubled, setting a record high….

On Monday, spring wheat …shot up to $24 a bushel, the highest price ever. Within the past month, the price of some types of wheat has risen over 90 percent. Already….it’s getting hard to find the type of wheat used to make pasta, noodles, pizza, and bagels.

“Supplies of some types of wheat will be extremely tight… I don’t think we’ll see physical bread lines, but supplies will be just tight.”

Overall, in January, consumer food prices were up 4.9 percent in comparison with January 2007. Cereal and baked goods rose 5.5 percent. Dairy products increased 12.8 percent and fruits and vegetables 6.1 percent.

Last October, King Arthur Flour…raised prices by 12 percent. It just announced another price increase – of 46 percent…

US stocks of wheat are now at their lowest level in 60 years. By the time the June harvest of spring wheat begins, there will be 27 days of wheat left in storage, estimates the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). (The normal supply is three months.)

King Arthur “… sorry!”

… Global wheat prices are at an all-time high, well over triple the cost per bushel since spring of last year. The combination of poor wheat harvests in parts of the world, low carryover stocks from last year, and high energy and input costs have created a very grim situation for wheat prices, which leads of course to higher flour prices.

Although all King Arthur Flour is milled from wheat grown here in North America, where the harvest was plentiful last year, global demand on our domestic supply has forced the price of wheat sky-high.

In Peru where they grow 250 varieties of potatoes they say that soup without potatoes is like life without love Climate changes brought new challenges to potato growers there.

In the past 40 years, Peru has lost nearly a quarter of the glaciers in the Andes to rising temperatures. No one has quantified the precise climate changes in this little village, but Baca Huaman knows. The weather used to be so regular that he knew just when to plant each variety of potato.

Now he says nothing is predictable. It’s warmer, yet there are early freezes, and the rains don’t come when they should. This new weather is encouraging plant diseases that were rarely a problem before. The most serious is an infection called late blight. It was late blight that caused the Irish potato famine in the mid-1800s. Some of farmer Baca Huaman’s fields were hit recently. So he has had to move some of his potatoes up the mountain, nearly 900 feet higher, where it’s colder.

new face of hunger

“We are seeing a new face of hunger – people who suddenly can no longer afford the food they see on store shelves. Prices have soared beyond their reach”… “The world must respond to help the new hungry as well as the world’s ‘bottom billion’ – those already struggling on less than dollar a day….”

Rising food and fuel prices, competition between biofuels and food, increased demand for food by countries with emerging economies and erratic weather are hitting hardest those on the poverty line.

(When WFP sent out an urgent plea recently for) S$77 million to deliver 89,000 metric tons of food to the poorest Afghans and Canada responded with 10 million Canadian dollars. The urgent plea came after wheat prices in Afghanistan increased by 67 percent in less than a year. On average, Afghans who are not engaged in agriculture now spend three quarters of their income on food.


‘Senior’ Inflation For Aging Americans

…. the cost of food in the supermarket is rising by 5.7% a year. Home energy is up 5.5%. Gasoline is up 34%. It costs 8.9% more to fly than it did a year ago. Medical services are rising by 5.7% a year, hospital services by 8.5%… Oerall, this “senior” inflation is running well ahead of the official CPI… Falling house prices, while deflationary, actually hurt seniors as well.

…. tens of millions of Americans may be in even worse shape financially than they realize. We already have a savings crisis in this country. The national savings rate is on the floor, and millions of Americans are financially unprepared for retirement. Yet most of their personal retirement calculations factor in “standard” CPI estimates.  Raise those numbers by a percentage point or two per year, and what looks like a savings “shortfall” by the time you reach 65 will stretch into a yawning chasm.

Food Banks: Basics’ costs rising        

“We have just been astounded by the rising prices of some of the foods we buy on a regular basis,” says Trish Twomey, manager of Fremont-based Solid Ground’s Hunger Action Center. Earlier this month, the Seattle Food

Committee, a coalition of 27 in-city food banks, faced prices for a bulk purchase of $1.25 per dozen eggs, just over 50 percent above their March 2007 cost of 82.5 cents. This year, Twomey said, “We just couldn’t do an egg purchase.”

(At the) White Center Food Bank… “We are seeing a sizeable increase in the number of clients that are coming in.” He said the facility has gone from the fourth to first in number of clients served among South King County food banks. White Center, he said, serves a number of families hit hard by the subprime crisis and now either facing higher mortgage payments or losing their homes.

At the other end of the city, the North Helpline and Lake City Food Bank… is seeing an increase in demand, too. “Food is not coming in as fast as it was.”

Food prices – Cheap no more  

… what is most remarkable about the present bout of “agflation” is that record prices are being achieved at a time not of scarcity but of abundance. According to the International Grains Council, a trade body based in London, this year’s total cereals crop will be 1.66 billion tonnes, the largest on record and 89m tonnes more than last year’s harvest, another bumper crop. That the biggest grain harvest the world has ever seen is not enough to forestall scarcity prices tells you that something fundamental is affecting the world’s demand for


Guess who loses

According to the World Bank, 3 billion people live in rural areas in developing countries, of whom 2.5 billion are involved in farming

Rising prices will also hurt the most vulnerable of all….snip/  As Gary Becker, a Nobel economics laureate at the University of Chicago, points out, if food prices rise by one-third, they will reduce living standards in rich countries by about 3%, but in very poor ones by over 20%.

we’re hanging by our teeth

In the past eight months, the cost of the pigs’ nosh has doubled to $400 a ton. “We work so hard day and night that we ought to be getting somewhere,” said Mrs. Murton.  “But we’re hanging by our teeth.”

The U.K.’s breeding herd has fallen to about 425,000 — half the size it was in 1990. Now, soaring feed prices have tipped the industry into crisis.

Twenty-year high in rice prices sparks fears


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    • pfiore8 on March 27, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    for my 10pm “writing in the raw” spot on the front page? i will be in the city having dinner with srkp23 tonight… so this would be really a great piece. i wrote something quick, but nothing that compares with the importance of your essay.

    and if you’re around to field comments, that would be great, but not required.

    i’ll check back to see if it’s okay.

    • pfiore8 on March 27, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    and so you’ll see this at 10pm… thanks… pf8

  1. there is a source of bread to be had.

    Ask the Katrina people about how that went.

  2. Oil transports the food to market. Oil plows the fields. Oil is the fertilizers and powers the irrigation systems. Oil runs the harvester. Oil provides the energy for refrigeration. Oil has quadrupled in price since early 2005.

    We spend about 30 calories of energy (in oil) for every calorie of food produced. In a non-industrialized society, this cannot occur. There are over 6.5 billion mouths to feed. Now that we are past peak oil, where is the cheaper energy going to come from to supply the additional energy requirements to maintain our food stocks quota and supply chain?

    The era of 3000 mile caesar salads is over folks.

  3. probably makes more sense than food crops (and doesn’t require very good soil).

  4. …the price of corn, having grown up on an Iowa farm.  For most of my time on the farm corn sold for about $2.75 per bushel, and federal subsidies were needed to keep it at that price.

    Today the May futures for corn closed at $5.55/bushel.  Prices are not expected to drop any time soon, as the March 2009 futures closed at $5.80 today.

    Corn and it’s byproducts are used in an incredibly wide variety of food products, so I expect prices to continue rising rapidly.  And beef and pork prices have followed suit as corn is their main source of food.


  5. the dollar is a cheap, ever cheaper whore.

  6. I would urge everyone to read Seeds of Destruction by William Engdahl. This situation has largely been brought about as a result of a study and a National Security Study Memo (NSSM 200) headed up by Henry Kissinger back in the Nixon and Ford era.

    Generally speaking Kissinger’s National Security Memo promoted population control in raw materials-rich developing countries. Thirteen developing countries were named as being threats to future US exploitation of their resources unless drastic measures were taken to reduce their population growth. At the time the US, with 6% of the world’s population was consuming about one-third of the world’s resources.

    One of the key results has been the development of GMO seeds and politically pressuring the world’s farmers world to stop using grain seeds that have been developed naturally over thousands of years and to begin using genetically modified seeds produced and patented by the US based agri-businesses such as Monsanto.

    We have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of the population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment.

    Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction.

    This was written by a US State Department senior planning oficial, George Kennan, in 1948.

    “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control people…” Henry Kissinger

    • on March 28, 2008 at 7:28 am

    buy a bag at the store 4$, cut in 4s. plant cut side down 6in. . =1000s in the gound in a pinch.   peace

    • odillon on March 29, 2008 at 4:53 am

    Can someone tell me?

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