From a hillside, Kamal Saadat looked forlornly at hundreds of potential customers, knowing he could not take them for trips in his boat to enjoy a spring weekend on picturesque Oroumieh Lake, the third largest saltwater lake on earth.
“Look, the boat is stuck… It cannot move anymore,” said Saadat, gesturing to where it lay encased by solidifying salt and lamenting that he could not understand why the lake was fading away.
The long popular lake, home to migrating flamingos, pelicans and gulls, has shrunken by 60 percent and could disappear entirely in just a few years, experts say — drained by drought, misguided irrigation policies, development and the damming of rivers that feed it.
Official reports blame the drying mainly on a decade-long drought, and peripherally on consumption of water of the feeding rivers for farming. They put 5 percent of the blame on construction of dams and 3 percent on other factors. Others disagree about the relative blame.
The first alarm over the lake’s shrinking came in late 1990s amid a nagging drought.
Nonetheless, the government continued construction of 35 dams on the rivers which feed the lake; 10 more dams are on the drawing boards for the next few years. Read more
Writing in the journal Science, they say current policies focus on the production of a few crops and a minority of farmers while failing to address farming’s contribution to global warming, biodiversity loss, natural resource degradation, and public health problems.
Spiking food prices have pushed the world’s poor countries to “one shock away from a full-blown crisis,” the head of the World Bank warned Saturday. Source
A dollar plumbing three-year lows is hitting Americans squarely in the gas tank, and one economist thinks it could drive prices as high as $6 a gallon or more by summertime under the right conditions. Source
McDonald’s Corp forecast higher prices for beef, dairy and other items and said it would cautiously raise prices to keep attracting diners, who are grappling with higher grocery and gas bills. Source
Global sugar inventories are at a two-decade lows and grain production has fallen short of supply for the past seven seasons out of 11. Source
Robert Zoellick, World Bank President, said, “Of particular concern is food prices. This is the biggest threat today to the world’s poor, where we risk losing a generation. We are one shock away from a full-grown crisis. The financial crisis taught us that prevention is better than cure. We cannot afford to forget that lesson.” Source
The World Bank, whose primary responsibility is to support the poorest economies worldwide, said that wheat and maize prices had soared by 69 and 74% respectively over the past year – pushing to crisis levels the cost of living for the poorest on the planet. Source
The United States plays a huge role in the food supply. “We are the biggest country feeding the rest of the world,” Hurt said. “Corn is our largest crop, soybeans the second, wheat third. We are the largest supplier of cotton and rice. It’s dramatic the production base we have built up to sustain the rest of the world.”
Besides the 21.2 million acres of U.S. corn that now are used for ethanol production, 20 million acres of U.S. soybeans are going to China, and Russia’s wheat production is declining.
“There’s no surplus or inventory of these commodities in the world anymore,” Hurt said. “That’s a big part of our food system.”
The USDA estimates global food prices rose 25 percent last year and set a record in February.
Hurt said U.S. prices for pork are up 6 percent to 7 percent, and estimated it will go to 9 percent this year. Beef, veal and seafood prices are up 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent; poultry has risen 2.5 percent to 3.4 percent; and fruits and vegetables are up 3 percent to 4 percent.
He said in the past 11 years, there were seven years when the world wasn’t able to grow enough food to feed itself. This might be surprising to many U.S. families whose cupboards and refrigerators are full of food. Source
Flooding in southern Manitoba, one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions, will have impact on world food supply. Source
“We tend to feel we’re insulated from the food riots,” she said, referring to recent events in India, Haiti and several African nations. “Most of the food we grow is exported around the world. We eat very little of what we produce.”
Even in a nightmare scenario, Manitoba is no danger of losing its ability to feed itself. A handful of large grain and vegetable farms could feed all 1.2 million people in the province, Doucette said.
But Manitoba’s ability to help feed the world is diminished when farmers quit the business, as thousands have in recent decades. Manitoba lost 2,023 of its 21,071 farms between 2001 and 2006, the year of the most recent Canadian census, a drop of 9.6 per cent over five years.
“It’s easy to become complacent about going to Safeway and Superstore and Sobey’s and buying all your groceries,” he said. “You take your ability to produce food locally for granted when the shelves are full.” Source
A leading food security expert warns that a catastrophic global food crisis is inevitable unless there’s widescale co-operation among nations.
Dr. Robert Thompson of the University of Illinois and Urbana-Champaign spoke this week at the University of Saskatchewan.
He warns that food security issues in many countries will almost certainly deepen.
He says that by the year 2050, it’s projected the world will have an additional 2.6 billion people to feed.
To put that in perspective, he notes the population of China is 1.3 billion.
Thompson says Africa and Southeast Asia are expected to see the biggest jump in population.
He predicts world demand for food will double through the first half of the 21st century.
But he estimates that only another 12 per cent of the earth’s landmass can be realistically put into agricultural production.
“The only environmentally sustainable alternative is to do something close to at least to doubling the average productivity of the fertile, non-erodible soils already in production. Because the environmental cost of expanding the land area much beyond that 12 per cent are really unacceptable.”
Availability and accessibility to water will also play a big part in the success or failure of efforts to increase farm production.
Thompson says there’s an urgent need to make better use of water resources, including that directed to irrigation.
China’s soybean imports, the world’s biggest, soared 51 percent in March from the lowest level in more than two years in February.
Corn stockpiles in the U.S., the world’s largest grower, are plunging to a 15-year low and may be smaller than the government forecast last month as rising demand from makers of feed and ethanol drive prices higher.
Stockpiles on Sept. 1, before the harvest, will drop 66 percent from a year earlier to 589 million bushels, a Bloomberg survey of 30 analysts showed. That’s 13 percent less than a March 10 estimate by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which will update its forecast today. Tightening supply led Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to raise its corn-price forecast last week.
Each year, an ever larger portion of the world’s crops — cassava and corn, sugar and palm oil — is being diverted for biofuels as developed countries pass laws mandating greater use of nonfossil fuels and as emerging powerhouses like China seek new sources of energy to keep their cars and industries running.
Corn futures rallied to the highest level since the 2008 global food crisis on Monday and were withing striking distance of a fresh record high on tight supplies.
Futures added 2.6 percent early to a rally that began on Thursday when the U.S. Department of Agriculture pegged quarterly corn stocks as of March 1 at well below estimates, underscoring the strong demand for the grains.
The market was also supported by the prospect of delays to spring fieldwork in the United States due to rains.
Analysts said it could take years to replenish corn stocks, which are forecast by the USDA to be the lowest in 15 years this summer. The estimate will be updated on Friday.
Food prices soared 3.9 percent last month, the biggest gain since November 1974, according to the Labor Department’s producer price index. And cotton prices have risen nearly 60 percent over the past three months, putting pressure on manufacturers and retailers to jack up clothes prices.
Even the price of chocolate is going up. Hershey Co. last week said it will raise prices on candy by nearly 10 percent to offset rising costs.
…Tripoli stores. Most of them were almost empty, with the remaining commodities offered for double the price.
“It’s wholesalers who are manipulating the prices and taking advantage of the situation,” said owner of a food store, who couldn’t buy a number of commodities and bring them to the store due to their high prices.
“Even at the beginning of crisis, we used to sell all food commodities that were coming to us from Egypt, Tunisia and Italy,” said a supermarket owner. “However, the port is now closed, and we don’t have even the domestic goods and commodities that used to come to us from Misrata. Meanwhile, the remaining goods will soon disappear.”
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is running out of food. About a quarter of the population – some 6 million people – don’t have enough to eat, according to a new report by UN agencies. Nearly a million of them are children under the age of five.
Global agriculture is now facing a convergence of pressures – climate variability and climate change, land degradation, loss of biodiversity, food crisis, energy crisis, growing populations – which may be seen as “a perfect storm”, Dr William Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) said.
An increase in the prevalence of extreme weather events due to global warming will seriously affect global food production worldwide, climate and agriculture experts are increasingly warning.
“Climate change threatens to make large areas of the planet unsuitable for human habitation and for an adequate level of food production,” writes Ervin Laszlo in the book Quantum Shift in the Global Brain.
“Very few countries are still food self-sufficient — and the internationally available food reserves are shrinking.”
In the past few months, a drought has devastated the Russian wheat harvest, floods have destroyed vast stretches of Pakistani farmland, and a heat wave led to the death of 2,000 cattle in Kansas. As greenhouse gas emissions continue and the planet keeps warming, climatologists are predicting “more and more hot extremes and worse unprecedented extremes and that’s what we’re seeing,” said Neville Nicholls of Monash University in Australia.
Rising Demand and Fewer Donations prompt Food Banks all over ask for help with empty shelves
Here’s a great overview of the impact of climate change on a global scale. No matter what you think is the root cause, the fact that it is happening with widespread ramifications seems to be inarguable in my opinion. The earth is changing. What that means and to what extent remains to be seen, but this report from the BBC provides a good summary.
I honestly can’t summarize all of the news about the global food crisis effectively. I could easily do a daily massive link dump and not fully capture the stories of hunger and food shortages worldwide. Before you argue that hunger has always been a problem, let me tell you that it has gotten worse. Much worse.
Australia has been hit especially hard as a result of the massive flooding which had a huge impact on it’s crop production and exports of wheat and sugar.
FOOD security will be the greatest challenge to civilisation this century, with shortages leading to higher prices, political instability and mass migration, warn scientists, farmers and academics.
A policy summit in Melbourne this week will be told that that while Australian farms are capable of feeding the nation until it more than doubles in population, agricultural productivity is in decline and the effects of a looming food crisis overseas are already being felt in rising grocery costs.
Sharp rises in food prices in 2008 and 2010 demonstrated that supplies were no longer keeping up with demand, said Julian Cribb, author of The Coming Famine, who will address the summit on food challenges.
But the ramifications of the problem were even starker overseas. The governments of Tunisia and Egypt had fallen as a result of riots propelled by food protests.
Those type of upheavals would inevitably affect Australia through increased immigration and regional instability unless it invested in research and innovation to increase global food production.
But this is not just an Australian problem. It will affect us all.
According to the United Nations, the world’s population is expected to grow 35 percent in the next 40 years. The global population is increasing by 210,000 people per day, and is expected to stabilize at 9 billion people by that year. That’s an increase of 2.5 billion people, or, the equivalent of another two Chinas.
It isn’t over. The UN food agency recently announced that a drought was threatening the wheat crop in China, the world’s largest wheat producer. In addition, droughts in Russia, Ukraine and other parts of Europe, coupled with bad weather in the United States, Canada and Australia are ransacking global grain inventories. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture already expects the world supply of grain to decrease by 2.2 percent this year.
Meanwhile, in America, statistics show that hunger, which is now referred to as “food insecurity”, affects even the wealthy now:
Between 7 and 13 percent of people in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.’s, wealthiest suburbs are unsure where they will get their next meal, according to a national report that has surprised some nonprofit groups that feed the hungry.
“This data is eye-opening for us, because it not only tells us where people in need of our services are, but it paints a totally different demographic picture of who it was we thought who we were serving,” said Deborah Flateman, CEO of the Maryland Food Bank, who is also on the board of Feeding America. “We might really need to look at the suburbs.”
A total of 651,370 people, or 11.6 percent of Maryland’s population, is “food insecure,” a term Feeding America researchers give to those who have limited access to nutritious foods.
Corn futures continue to sell high, the highest since the 2008 peak.
U.S. corn prices surged 6.5 per cent on Friday to their highest levels since the food crisis of 2008, setting the stage for record global food prices – which have sparked social unrest – to push even higher.
Futures, which rose 4.5 per cent on Thursday, were fuelled by strong demand for corn to make food and fuel. That demand has whittled down the corn supply, which was already at its lowest level in 15 years in the United States, the world’s top exporter of the grain.
Rising food prices, which climbed a record high of 25% in 2010, is adding to inflationary pressures in the Middle East and affecting a significant population in many countries in the region, QNB Capital said in a release.
According to QNB Capital, the index of global food prices maintained by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) rose by 25% in 2010. The index surpassed the previous record in June 2008 and then increased by a further 9.9% in the first two months of 2011.
According to the World Bank, the world is nearing a “breaking point” as food prices are squeezing the poorest in society; those who spend a substantial part of their income on food. This phenomenon is also affecting a significant part of the population in many countries in the Middle East.
Food prices are near record levels and still expected to increase further.
The World Bank’s own food price index is near record levels, having increased 15% between October 2010 and January 2011. The World Bank further expects prices to remain high this year. In line with this, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is forecasting a 19% rise.
While the last food price spike coincided with an economic boom, the current spike comes when many governments in the region are struggling with deep deficits, still a result of the global financial crisis. In the current situation, affected governments have less bandwidth to respond to food price inflation by boosting food subsidies or wages.
I’ve been interested since January in mass animal, fish, and insect events. There were some really big ones that caught the world’s attention and now I follow them regularly. I do not believe they are plagues sent by God or signs of the Apocalypse. I DO believe that they are indicative of climate change or other impacts we are having on the environment.
The massive flooding and droughts going on for the past 6 months all over the planet has already contributed to the food crisis by cutting supply in some places and increasing demand in others. Australia was particularly hit with floods and their crops have suffered greatly. Now, crops all over the world face the threat of plagues of insects and vermin.
Changes in weather, habitats, food chains, etc cause changes in the patterns of behavior of the other living things that inhabit our planet. To think that we are not affecting the natural cycles of our planet, to me, seems ridiculous.
Whatever the cause, there have been a lot of these mass infestations lately. Here are some of the bigger ones.
Stink bugs plague Baltimore homes and farms - March 21, 2011 - SourceSource 2
The concern is particularly high for fruit trees, as well as tomato plants.
It seems no Maryland congressman is more bugged by the problem than Rep. Roscoe Bartlett.He is pushing for, among other things, an emergency exemption by the Environmental Protection Agency so Maryland farmers can spray a stink bug pesticide.”You’ve really got to be in panic mode,” he said. “This could be a plague of truly biblical proportions.”
Bartlett organized a meeting last week that included experts from the U.S. Agriculture Department and Virginia Tech University. The meeting was held in Emmitsburg.
Stink Bug Epidemic - now in 33 states - danger to crops - March 31st, 2011 - Source
A stink bug epidemic is on the rise here in the United States. It has been confirmed that the brown marmorated stink bug has now been found in 33 states in America, compared to only being found in 25 states as of last fall.
The real threat that these insects pose is the fact that they eat your vegetables and fruits, and can swarm in the thousands. According to the DailyMail, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has spent $10 million trying to find a way to exterminate them but has so far been unsuccessful.
This could create a huge loss for not only family gardens, but larger fields of crops as well. The economy is bad enough as it is right now. The price of gas and foods in the United States has risen, as well as the unemployment rates. The last thing one needs is additional losses.
Beetles swarm QLD Gold Coast QLD Australia
Thousands of water-beetles in Bundaberg Australia - March 25th, 2011 - Source
IN the past week Bundaberg has looked like a scene straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, with thousands of beetles plaguing brightly lit areas after sundown.
The swarm of beetles, some more than 5cm long, are coming out at night and showing no mercy as they latch on to buildings, cars and anything that looks like a good habitat.
Thousands of water-beetles invade Brisbane Australia (375KM from Bundaberg) - April 1st, 2011 - Source
Brisbane has been infiltrated by diving beetles in the wake of the floods, but most of the bugs seen in the city are either dead or dying.
Thousands of the critters, which look similar to cockroaches, have been spotted across southeast Queensland, including in the Brisbane CBD, on the Goodwill Bridge and at the Gabba.
“They’re obviously on the move. They’re in unusual numbers – that is the difference. This is not an enquiry we get every year and we think it’s because of the floods.
Millions of crickets infest Victoria Australia - hospital cancels operations - March 8, 2011 - Source
The local health manager Antje Badger says the crickets have been building up for weeks.
“There are a lot in the operating theatre,” she said.
“But it’s around the whole hospital. At the front of the hospital, in the emergency department, they’re just eveverywhere.
“They’re on the roads, in peoples homes, so I’m not sure how many are in the theatre but there are quite a number,” said Ms Badger.
Broken Hill Australia (1500KM from Brisbane) plagued with crickets and mice- March 17th, 2011 - SourceSource 2Source 3
News Limited journalist Jack Marx has reported from Broken Hill that; “There’s a deathly stench in the wind that blows down the main street of Broken Hill, though nobody is sure if it’s the insects or vermin. It’s probably both.”
Marx also regales his readers with a yarn from an anonymous local, reporting;
“One local girl, a tough, pretty 30-something with guns, dogs and something of a bunker mentality, believes the biblical infestations are part of a larger apocalypse, the earthquakes, tsunamis and plagues all related to a doomsday foretold long ago”.
They came in their millions about a month ago, an army of crickets and an ocean of mice, teeming into the town, into houses and shops and down into the mines.
One theory has it that the floods up north have pursued the critters to the lower half of the continent. Another says that the phenomenal rains – a year’s worth in just the last few months – have turned the red earth unusually green with foliage, the mice and crickets rutting furiously in the knowledge that their offspring will have an abundance to eat.
Tweed New South Wales Australia (130KM from Brisbane) plagued with water beetles - March 26th, 2011 - Source
“I was fishing the other morning in Cudgen Creek and there were all these flying insects diving into the salt water,” Mr Jenkins said.
“The bream were trying to catch them; I’ve never seen anything like it in my whole life.”
Mr Jenkins identified the bugs as water beetles and said they were normally only seen in fresh water.
“There are millions of them at South Tweed too,” he said. “I’ve never seen them in such large quantities. A swarm that size is phenomenal. It’s very unusual.”
Mice, locusts, mosquitoes, and other insects in plague numbers in Riverina section of New South Wales - March 23, 2011 - Source
MICE are on the march in Wagga and in plague proportions in Hay and Griffith where they are invading homes, businesses, schools and hospitals.
Farmhouses in the Wagga area and homes on the city’s outskirts bordering open land are battling against mice now.
The mice are hard on the heels of the locust plague, massive mosquito infestation and other insect attacks over recent months.
On Wagga’s outskirts, mice are so prolific some residents are setting mouse traps during one television ad break and emptying them during the next break.
Mice are a huge problem in Hay, where residents are trapping as many as 20 mice a night and the smell of dead rodents is filling businesses and public buildings.
Spur-throated Locusts move out of Australian breeding grounds in large numbers - March 28th, 2011 - Source
Spur-throated locusts have been found in a trial patch of sorghum near Tungamah, one of two sites in Victoria where the larger, more voracious pest has been found to have hatched.
Usually confined to Queensland and parts of NSW, the spurthroated locust is breeding and swarming across a much larger area because of ideal conditions.
Victorian plague locust commissioner Gordon Berg said the pest had also been found in the Sunraysia area around Mildura, where they had stripped citrus trees.
The Tungamah and Mildura populations included nymphs that would have hatched locally, Mr Berg said.
We have never known of them to be in breeding populations in Victoria before.
Adult spur-throated locusts can drift as far south as Melbourne in small numbers, but egglaying and hatching has never been recorded in Victoria.
Water-beetles invade Sunshine coast in British Columbia (Vancouver) - March 26, 2011 - Source
Amalgamated Pest Control zone supervisor controlled Chris Ryan said “Other than being an eyesore and having a bit of a strong smell, they’re actually beneficial to us.”
“With the heavy rain we’ve had recently, it’s created new waterways and ponds so they’re reproducing in record numbers,” he said.
“This number of them is virtually unseen for as long as anyone can remember – they are definitely in plague proportions.”
Mosquitoes (Midges) plague warning for Scotland - March 08, 2011 - SourceSource 2
THIS year’s midge invasion is set to be 800 times worse than normal following the heavy winter snowfalls.Experts say the many feet of snow that covered much of Scotland for weeks acted as an insulating layer for midge larvae.
Instead of being killed off by the million as a result of ground frost, the insects were kept alive in record numbers by a protective blanket of snow.
Spiders fleeing floods in Pakistan invest trees by the thousands - March 28th, 2011 - Source
Millions of spiders have crawled into trees in Pakistan to escape flood waters, shrouding them with their silky webs.
The eye-catching phenomenon is an unexpected side-effect of last year’s flooding which claimed the lives of almost 2,000 people.
However, since the monsoon weather devastated the nation last July, much of the water has still not yet receded.
The tiny arachnids have sought refuge amongst the trees weaving beautifully intricate webs between the leaves.
Hairy moth plague in Venezuela closes 167 schools; causes stinging and allergies - March 31, 2011 - Source
Caracas, Mar 31 (Prensa Latina) Some 13 municipalities in the Venezuelan state of Sucre are affected by the invasion of butterfly known as hairy Palometa whose hairs cause itching.
In this region, since last Monday, classes were suspended in early childhood education schools, secondary and technical high school by the large number of children involved in the skin, the press note today.
In order to restart the school year on Thursday, in 167 schools were conducted cleanups and fumigation.
Processionary Pine Caterpillars plague Costa Blanca in Spain; danger to pets & children - March 10, 2011 - Source
Nick, of Cheap Tyres, La Nucia, said he first learnt of the threat the caterpillars posed when a customer told him of the fate of her dog. “It survived but the vet had to chop about half its tongue away.”
He said the insects were “absolutely everywhere” on the land near his home and although the area was cleared of some nests earlier this week, others remained on higher branches.
“Last year was nothing like this, just a nest here and there in the trees. This season has seen some absolutely huge nests – the size of footballs,” said Nick.
13 year Cicadas set to hatch this year in Middle Tennessee - March 23, 2011 - Source
Brood XIX of the 13-year cicadas had a spectacular emergence in Middle Tennessee in 1998, so this is their year to emerge again, probably in May, when the temperature of the soil four inches below the surface reaches 67 degrees.
Mahalapye East in South Africa plagued by ants; children refuse to go outside - April 1st, 2011 - Source
MAHALAPYE EAST: The people of Xhosa 1 in Mahalapye have called on the government to rescue them from a visitation of ants that have wrought anguish upon their daily lives.
The ants are particularly active along the river in Mahalapye East, where their numbers swell when the sun breaks out after it has been raining. People here say they have been subjected to this torture for the past two years.
“The ants have forced a change in the people’s way of life here,” says Tefo Makake, who is here visiting. “As you know, children naturally like frolicking outside.
“Not any more here; they have resorted to indoor games and watching television all day long.
Millions of Caterpillars plague East Java, Indonesia - March 2011 - Source
Caterpillars attack in Probolinggo, East Java, Indonesia is increasingly widespread. If previously only in two districts, now spread to one other district. Earlier rain of caterpillars occurs only in 11 villages in two namely Leces and Tegal Siwalan.
Now, the caterpillar pest had spread to the village of Kedung Lo, District Bantaran. Efforts Agriculture Probolinggo spraying since last Monday, still has not produced results. Tens of thousands of caterpillars has been very concerned citizen. Not only suffer from itching, the activity becomes disturbed people because of their time taken to clean the house and the plants that were attacked this brown caterpillar.
If traveling, residents in the village were forced to use an umbrella kedawung Source for fear of caterpillars falling from trees. Most caterpillars attack the mango trees owned by citizens so that leaves the caterpillar eaten. Not yet able to predict how much material loss due to attack the first time in this Probolinggo.
Probolinggo District Agricultural Office said based on the examination, caterpillars that attack people desgiria inclusa manifold. This type is quite fast grown caterpillar. Efforts to prevent proliferation can only be through spraying with insecticides. Officers to this day still do spraying into the trees. In addition, residents are also given the drug crop. The caterpillar will die if they eat the leaves.
To read more about mass fish kills and whale strandings and dramatic earth changes check out my other Round-ups:
This article about Lester Brown’s book and documentary is well worth reading. It’s an interview with LB and covers climate change, food shortages, Japan’s nuclear problems, political instability, and more. Read the full version here.
“How many failing states before we have a failing global civilization?” asks environmental pioneer Lester Brown in Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, premiering March 30 on PBS as part of its continuing Journey to Planet Earth series. It’s a Gordian knot of a question with no simple answer and nothing but complex, demanding solutions, fearsomely put forth as the fate of humanity totters in the balance.
Based on Brown’s book of the same name, Plan B is likely the scariest horror film that was ever disguised as a documentary, despite its calm narration from superstar Matt Damon. That’s because the acclaimed environmentalist has deeply studied the variety of environmental and geopolitical tipping points we are fast approaching, and found that we’re headed for a seriously dark dystopia if we don’t turn civilization as we know it around, and fast. A catastrophic confluence of food and water shortages, overpopulation and pollution, collapsed governments and communities and more natural disasters than Roland Emmerich can dream up await us on the other side of Plan A, which Brown calls “business of usual.”
IndexIQ Chief Executive Adam Patti said CROP will provide exposure to global small-capitalization companies engaged in the growing agribusiness sector. Because it is an ETF, Patti said, CROP will give investors “a highly liquid, highly transparent, low cost, tax efficient” way to gain exposure to agribusiness’ growing demand for food crops and shrinking supply of them.
“Global supply shortages, changing dietary demands in emerging markets, growing populations and alternative energy production are among the many powerful factors driving global demand and skyrocketing prices for agribusiness products. We believe these trends are likely to persist for the foreseeable future,” Patti said in a statement.
The CROP ETF arrives at an unprecedented time in food history: prices recently soared 3.9% in February, the biggest monthly gain since November 1974, marking the continuation of a trend that many economists expect to hold true for at least the remainder of the year. Meat and dairy prices have been on the rise, reflecting higher prices for the corn and soybeans used in animal feed. Earlier this month, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said that world food prices have risen to the highest point since 1990, when the agency first began its food price tracking efforts.
Back in January, legendary investor Jim Rogers confirmed to CNBC that with food shortages coming, now is the time to buy into the food commodities market. As of today, Bloomberg was reporting that Texas was seeing its worst drought in 44 years, with the state’s wheat crop damaged as a result and ranchers forced to reduce cattle herds—a sure sign that food prices will continue to rise.
“In our view, small capitalization companies are best positioned to translate this demand into significant growth,” Patti said. “They are under-represented in other investment options, are typically faster growing and, in many cases, are undervalued relative to mega-cap multi-national companies, making them attractively positioned for growth and for acquisitions by the larger global players. We believe CROP is an efficient vehicle for gaining exposure to this dynamic sector and to these companies worldwide.”
Chips are disappearing from bags, candy from boxes and vegetables from cans.
As an expected increase in the cost of raw materials looms for late summer, consumers are beginning to encounter shrinking food packages.
With unemployment still high, companies in recent months have tried to camouflage price increases by selling their products in tiny and tinier packages. So far, the changes are most visible at the grocery store, where shoppers are paying the same amount, but getting less.
How are we going to feed two more Chinas by 2050? According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division, the “world population is projected to grow from 6.1 billion in 2000 to 8.9 billion in 2050” – an increase of about 50% . This means that on average, every year for the next 50 years, the world population will grow by about the number of people that live now in Italy, and total population growth over the next 50 years will be more than twice the size of the current population in China.
The demand for food globally is going nowhere but up, and investing in companies positioned to satisfy this demand is a wise move for the long-term investor.
Food scarcity is inconceivable in a country that has had an abundance for so long. However, it was only a few years ago when Joesette Sheeran, the head of the United Nations World Food Programme called the rising food prices in 2008 a “silent tsunami” which could push more than 100 million people worldwide into hunger according to the UN News Centre website. According to Jim Rogers on CNBC on January 15, 2010, “Sometime in the next few years we’re going to have very serious shortages of food everywhere in the world and prices are going to go through the roof.”
While there is no way to know for sure, it is entirely possible that food prices will soon be aboard their own runaway train. Let’s take a look at the following demand and supply drivers: rising populations, income growth in the China, India & Brazil (leading to improved diets), contraction of arable land in developed countries, expanding biofuels production, and water shortages.
All of these factors and more could lead to price inflation and cause a global food crisis. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in their report titled “How to Feed the World in 2050” projections show that “feeding a world population of 9.1 billion people in 2050 would require raising overall food production by some 70% between 2005/07 and 2050. Production in the developing countries would need to almost double.” While this may ultimately be accomplished, it would seem that anything short of that target could produce a supply shortage at different points along the way, which has some intriguing implications for secular-thinking investors.
It’s what some Oklahoma farmers are doing as their parched wheat fields struggle to spring to life after a long, dry winter. So are cattle ranchers, as hay supplies dwindle and they struggle with decisions such as whether to use another food supply or thin the herd.
“All agriculture depends on water, and water is at a premium right now,” said Harvey Schroeder, a cotton and wheat farmer in Frederick. “It becomes a disaster, but it’s such a slow disaster that they (producers) don’t realize it’s happening until it’s right on them.”
The last 120 days have been the driest since 2005-2006, which was also a severe drought period, said Gary McManus of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.
Already, cattle ranchers have begun to sell cattle because of the lack of forage and water, said Terry Forst, president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association.
Survivalists are subject to negative stereotyping - with good reason. However, we aren't all tin-foil hat wearing, conspiracy theorist Chicken Littles.
My Goal: Provide a skeptical, balanced, and rational environmental scan of current news and commentary about Dramatic Change Events (DCE).
About me: A tolerant, socially liberal, gun owning, food-stocking, information science professional and former native of eastern Kentucky who questions everything, but doesn't ignore the signs that dramatic changes are happening all over the world - every day.
Who cares about speculation on the causes at this point, I'm watching the symptoms.
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