The world is consuming grains faster than farmers are growing them, draining reserves and pushing prices to the levels that fueled food riots in poor countries three years ago. A big U.S. crop will be needed to meet the demand, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“The stage is set for very serious disruptions, should weather disasters happen,” said Keith Collins, the former chief economist of the Agriculture Department. “It seems clear to me that the chance of a more widespread global food crisis has increased.”
The rise in prices also has economists urging caution among policy makers.
Economists with the World Bank and the International Food Policy Research Institute are urging President Barack Obama not to overreact to recent spikes in food prices by imposing export bans on U.S. agricultural products.
“We should expect fluctuations, but we shouldn’t exacerbate these fluctuations by imposing obstructions to the market that could make things worse,” said Manuel Hernandez, a postdoctoral fellow at IFPRI. “The situation is not the same as in 2007 and 2008. So there is no major concern that we should worry about another food crisis.”