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News You Won't Read in the MSM

by Asinus Asinum Fricat Mon May 26th, 2008 at 05:38:06 AM EST

An outbreak of sharp eyespot disease (SED), which affects cereals, is threatening 72.46 million mu (4.83 million hectares) of wheat in China's major producing regions, according to local agricultural authorities.

This is exactly what I warned about in earlier diaries on the grain situation. With grain inventories at 40 year lows and demand booming the earth cannot afford any crop failures or outbreak of diseases that will lower yields. All we need is a drought here and a pestilence there, and we're toast.

I hope the Democrats have a plan of action 'cause we sure can't rely on the "repubescents" to come up with anything except showering bombs anywhere in the Middle East.

Diary rescue by Migeru

SED might erode the wheat output by 10% to 20%, while a more serious epidemic could cut output by as much as 50%, officials from the Henan Oil and Grain Product Quality Inspection Center told Interfax. "As it is still the early growth stage for wheat, the impact on output might be reduced, although wheat quality may be downgraded," an official from the center said.

I had a nifty diagram posted here, but since I'm a complete eejit when it comes to post pics and charts, just imagine it! (http://i132.photobucket.com/albums/q3/Outernet_2006/WheatI-fax.png)

The outbreak is being blamed on remnants of the disease from last year, coupled with favorable conditions, including plentiful water supplies in some regions and weakened resistance caused by a cold snap earlier this year.

Another batch of negative news is coming for China's 2008 wheat crop in 2008 with parts of Henan and Hebei reported serious drought while the Wheat Sharp Eyespot Disease is threatening Hennan, Shandong, Jiangsu, Anhui, Hubei and Shanxi.

Some unexpected events, like the January snowfall and cold snap, might affect wheat market fundamentals - considering China's grain supply is already at a fine balance.

In the past 12 months, wheat prices have almost doubled. The specter of food riots worries many poor countries where food bills have already risen by more than 33 percent. The African continent, already hit by a plethora of serious conflicts, may be paying more than $33 billion for cereal import by the end of this year's summer even though the actual quantity they import may fall. The US agriculture department has assessed that India will have to import about two million tonnes of wheat in 2008-09 as the buffer stocks are likely to fall below four million tonnes. Any setback in wheat crop at this stage will decidedly see a sharp rise in prices, perhaps by 50 percent.

The decline in wheat production is a global phenomenon. Big suppliers like Argentine, Australia and Russia all have been reporting a decline in their output because of drought or other climate related problems (take note, Sen. Inhofe). When the output falls the quantity available for export also falls; some countries ban exports. A comparatively smaller wheat producer like Kazakhstan has joined Russia and Argentina in banning exports even as wheat prices reached a record of $24 a bushel from about $10 a bushel in December 2007.

In the US, the wheat inventories have fallen to their lowest levels in 60 years. North China, which used to be the country's main wheat basket, has been hit by drought, as reported above, as is Australia, a country that sells nearly half its total wheat crop in the international market. Climate change is damaging crops everywhere. The demand from the nascent bio-fuel industry is also blamed, as is the rising living standards in countries like China. Apparently, the demand for grain has also gone up to feed the livestock.

It may all be seen as a vicious circle of demand and supply. But the end result is spiraling prices of wheat and other food grains. There is a great need to tackle many problems here, and it will have to be done through political means.

The world's food needs cannot be neglected.

The USDA "is now predicting a global wheat production recovery for 2008."

And at the same time (Cite):

[Economist Glen] Langan added, "We're not in a wheat-challenged world, but we're certainly in a market where almost all foodstuffs and grains will cost more than our parent's generation."

So production in 2008 will recover, we're not in a wheat-challenged world, but prices are going to stay high and millions of people in the developing world won't be able to afford to pay market prices.

Silly ol' me thinks this is a necessary pre-condition for utter disaster in the developing world.  But, then, I'm not an Agricultural Economist.

The New User Guide will tell you.  Look for the section "How do I insert a picture?"

Basically the code is:

|img src="_Address of image inserted here"|

With the "|" replaced by "<" at the front and ">" at the end.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri May 16th, 2008 at 01:36:24 PM EST
Silly ol' me thinks this is a necessary pre-condition for utter disaster in the developing world.

Of course Malthus has always been proven wrong.

I suppose the markets will have to step in and save everyone, again.

Maybe this is what economists mean by 'demand reduction'?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon May 26th, 2008 at 09:06:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course Malthus has always been proven wrong.

In the long run, so far.  In the short run think Irish Potato Famine.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 27th, 2008 at 12:51:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Silly me, of course Malthus was right in Ireland as well.  After all, the population did decline so as not to exceed the available food supply.  It was the fault of the Irish for not seeing the blight coming.

So sorry.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 27th, 2008 at 01:08:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
yup, the wheels are coming off all over the place and our political classes are still arguing over who to have a war of choice with next in order to line their own pockets.

Reality is gonna take the west by surprise and the day of reckoning is fast approaching.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun May 18th, 2008 at 12:45:12 PM EST
There is also the question of the massive "super-rents" the likes of Cargill, Bunge, ADM, Monsanto are taking out between producer and consumer.

Aided and abetted by the US government of course: what's good for Cargill is good for the US!

I heard the other day that Cargill gets privileged access to US military/NSa etc satellite data so they can stay ahead of the game - and they are not even a "Public" corporation but the world's biggest private one.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon May 26th, 2008 at 06:13:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All that remembers me a grafitti of Buenos Aires, quoted by Juan Gelman:

"Combat famine and poverty: Eat a poor."

After bread to gas, this will be probably the next move.

by kukute on Mon May 26th, 2008 at 02:34:31 PM EST
I guess they were reading a certain Modest Proposal

    It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants: who as they grow up either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.

I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration that of the hundred and twenty thousand children already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one-fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle or swine; and my reason is, that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in the sale to the persons of quality and fortune through the kingdom; always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.

I have reckoned upon a medium that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, increaseth to 28 pounds.

I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.

Infant's flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more plentiful in March, and a little before and after; for we are told by a grave author, an eminent French physician, that fish being a prolific diet, there are more children born in Roman Catholic countries about nine months after Lent than at any other season; therefore, reckoning a year after Lent, the markets will be more glutted than usual, because the number of popish infants is at least three to one in this kingdom: and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage, by lessening the number of papists among us.

I have already computed the charge of nursing a beggar's child (in which list I reckon all cottagers, laborers, and four-fifths of the farmers) to be about two shillings per annum, rags included; and I believe no gentleman would repine to give ten shillings for the carcass of a good fat child, which, as I have said, will make four dishes of excellent nutritive meat, when he hath only some particular friend or his own family to dine with him. Thus the squire will learn to be a good landlord, and grow popular among his tenants; the mother will have eight shillings net profit, and be fit for work till she produces another child.

Those who are more thrifty (as I must confess the times require) may flay the carcass; the skin of which artificially dressed will make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer boots for fine gentlemen.

by MarekNYC on Mon May 26th, 2008 at 02:50:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry Marek,

I get nervous reading those things from so high style and polite people, and it doesn't match with the experiences I had with English cooking the only time (about 3 months) I spent in England about 20 years ago.

In this subject I'm with Chirac, when he answered to Tony Blair's beautiful economic proposals, that "the main contribution England ever made to agriculture were the mad cows and the worst cooking of all Europe" or something like that.

I think that Jonathan Swift proposed similar things two centuries and a half ago.

I keep the hope that in south europe we'll keep the great cuisines from Portugal, Spain, France, Italy... without using human beings.

By the way, I think it was Robert Stevenson who wrote that nobody could explain or describe what anthropophagy is, until it became one of them.

Like being a mother or not...!

I'm getting lost...

by kukute on Mon May 26th, 2008 at 04:51:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope the Democrats have a plan of action 'cause we sure can't rely on the "repubescents" to come up with anything except showering bombs anywhere in the Middle East.

Are you implying there is any problem that cannot be solved by bombing other countries? And if so — why do you hate America?

(Oh, right. That's why.)

by Ralph on Mon May 26th, 2008 at 10:00:39 PM EST
Sorry Ralph,

I just hung the phone from a Boston call and my friends there were telling me that according CIS reports, this August USA will bomb Iran.

Don't you think it's enough to hate America?

I have very good american friends...

I'm afraid that you don't distinguish between metaphors and metonymies.

Just a suspicion!

Or, elaborate it!

by kukute on Mon May 26th, 2008 at 10:52:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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