World food shortage feared: Congress fiddles while the world starves

From Financial comes this great news:

“Fears of a global food crisis swept the world’s commodity markets as prices for staples such as corn, rice and wheat spiralled after the US government warned of “dramatically” lower supplies.”

“An especially hot summer in the US, droughts in countries including Russia and Brazil and heavy rain in Canada and Europe have hit many grain and oilseed crops this year. This has raising concern of a severe squeeze in food supplies and a repeat of the 2007-08 food crisis.”

The article goes on to point out that the US stock of corn is down to 900 million bushels, the lowest in 16 years.  And other countries are starting to cut off exports and hoarde what they have. 

I could not find current figures for 2010, but one site says this about how much corn the US turned into ethanol five years ago–I can only assume it is more now:

“Most of the 4 billion gallons of ethanol produced in 2005 came from 13% of the U.S. corn crop (1.43 billion bushels of corn grain). This represents a 17% increase from the 3.4 billion gallons produced in 2004. Ethanol is widely used as a fuel additive….” 

I’m no fan of ethanol, but this is ridiculous.  We are turning corn  into gasoline additive while our supply of corn is getting dangerously low. 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see all the campaigning butt pirates go back to Washington just to cut the production of corn into ethanol to zero until further notice?  That would show true leadership about a real worldwide crisis, and would likely calm the world markets.  Nah, that’s too sensible. Nevere happen.  We will just wait until the world is in a panic.  There is no guarantee that next year, or the year after will be better.  And they could be much worse.  Is this how The End begins?


p.s. Oh, great.  A new study claims that switchgrass is a much more efficient product from which to produce ethanol:   “switchgrass ethanol delivers 540 percent of the energy used to produce it, compared with just roughly 25 percent more energy returned by corn-based ethanol according to the most optimistic studies.”  At the time of the study there were no refineries capable of turning switchgrass into ethanol.  So build them. And in the mean time leave the corn for us animals. And for Bourban, don’t forget the Bourban.  And moonshine.

4 responses to “World food shortage feared: Congress fiddles while the world starves

  1. I donnoe JD…
    We’ve had great season for corn and beans here in Wisconsin. Rain when we needed it all summer and now two fabulous weeks of dry weather as the harvest begins. Last fall [2009] a lot of corn was left standing, do to continuing fall, rain and wet field conditions.

    The bushels per acre is also up, this year, do to good growing weather during the summer and now the low harvest moisture content; in some cases less than 14%, outstanding…!

    You are correct; corn is an expensive crop to grow and harvest due to: the high cost of: seeds, fertilizer, herbicides pesticides and the harvest drying process when the corn has a high moisture content, coming from the fields.

    ”… And in the mean time leave the corn for us animals. And for Bourban, don’t forget the Bourban. And moonshine.

    Amen, Brother Doe…!

  2. Virginny doesn’t produce much corn, but it was a hellacious year for corn here. We were drought conditions all summer. It doesn’t matter how it was in your or my particular area, it matters over all, and the reports are that it was very shitty as a whole.

  3. I know the wheat and beet crops in Russia were devastated by fire and the rice in Pakistan and Bangladesh by floods. The silver lining for the Midwest corn and bean growers is the best commodity prices in literally years and years…!

    Farmin’ is just like life and life is always a gamble, JD…

    ”She touched my face and called me her lover
    I never thought I’d need another.

    Your cool suburban sun
    You’re foolin’ every one
    You win some you lose some

    Your cool suburban sun
    You’re foolin’ every one
    You win some you lose some

    Now it’s gone, now it’s gone
    ~~~chambers and Robbins, songwriters

    Farmin’ and love are just like gamblin’, JD…
    It could really, really be “hell” to be a farmer, a gambler and a lover…
    What a triple to draw too…!

  4. nah, dept of ag pays them for not planting crops. then when they do plant ’em, if there is a drought, the dept of ag pays them crop insurance. and at the end of their life, if they want, they sell their land for millions to developers. i think it a racket. sure, it’s hard and dangerous, but i’m jealous as hell.

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