Floodwaters May Push Food Prices Higher

June 23, 2008 04:47 PM
by Lindsey Chapman
The effects of Midwestern flooding on already high corn prices will be felt by many grocery shoppers, who could start paying even more for food.

30-Second Summary

Midwestern floodwaters wiped out an estimated two million acres of corn and soybeans.

Livestock producers, still trying to manage the effects of rising corn prices on their expenditures for corn-based animal feed, are starting to cut down on the number of animals in their herds. Others are going out of business altogether.

Rod Brenneman, president and chief executive of Seaboard Foods in Kansas, said the costs of feeding just one pig have gone up $30 in the past year. Those costs are passed on to consumers who may pay another 15 cents per pound for a pork chop.

“There’s definitely liquidation of livestock happening,” Brenneman explained, which will force meat prices up later in 2008 and into 2009. Prices for everything from Thanksgiving turkeys to Christmas hams” will be affected, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Even before the floods, however, rising food prices and crop shortages were causing concern around the world. Growing countries like China and India, along with a vigorous interest in ethanol production, are placing greater demands on global food supplies.

But the world has seen food crises before, writes the Christian Science Monitor, and lessons can be learned from history.

Increasing research in genetically modified foods could help some problems, says Abdolreza Abbassian, secretary of the intergovernmental group on grains for the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization. “Research has been neglected for so long.”

Headline Link: ‘Livestock liquidation’

Background: The last food crisis

Reaction: Feeding hungry families

Opinion & Analysis: What can be done?

Related: Ethanol and food prices; lab research

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