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Independent.ie

Saturday 25 November 2017

Fears of Food shortage mount in the worst us drought for more than 50 years

major food commodities hit record highs in the US as fears of food shortages mount on the back of the worst drought to hit North America in more than 50 years.

Maize grain for September delivery have hit record prices of €260/t at the Chicago Board of Trade, and soybeans hit highs of €521/t for August delivery.

The price surges mirror those that occurred in the 2007-2008 crisis, in which riots were sparked in more than 30 countries.

While many commodity prices have surpassed those of 2008, wheat prices are not yet at record levels, despite surging 50pc to a four-year high in the past five weeks.

Joseph Glauber, chief economist at the US Department of Agriculture believes the situation is unlikely to be as severe as 2008. "We really had an extreme shortage of wheat in 2007-2008 and I don't see that at this point," he said.

The worst drought since 1956 has hit the US Corn Belt throughout the midwest, with government officials predicting that it may last until October.

70pc of the crops in these areas are in some form of drought, with many later planted crops facing stress in key growth stages and failing to pollinate.

Yield forecasts have been downgraded, with maize grain down by 26m tonnes compared to June's forecast.

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This downgrade is due mainly to the drop in yields but also in part to some farmers ploughing in crops in order to claim crop insurance.

Only 31pc of the crop is now considered in good or excellent condition.

Meteorologists have suggested that a hot, dry fortnight is on the way, with drought spreading to western and north-western parts.

The worst affected states are Kentucky, Indiana and Missouri, with crop condition indexes standing at less than 25pc.

Neil Brady

Indo Farming