They say that in every cloud there is a silver lining, a sentiment that will surely have been put to the test by farmers and millers across the world this year thanks to drought or in some cases extreme moisture.
But a global shortage of popping corn is creating opportunities for some Australian growers of grains according to ABC Rural. The world’s biggest producer of popping corn, USA, has been swept by the same circumstances of drought as its other grain exports. This has left many international markets now short in supply.
To take advantage of the situation, farmers in central western NSW, Australia, will plant the biggest popcorn crop in the region’s history. Commodity trader Tony Cogswell says it’s hoped the niche crop will be exported to a number of international buyers.
“This has got a permanent place in our program now. We have some domestic clients that are taking popcorn on a regular basis,” he said.
“It will also be going into Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Egypt and potentially into France.
“We have had enquires from all of those places and they are all in our targets.”
The global price of wheat has increased by an astounding 30% over the past 12 months – which according to the UK based National Farmers Union (NFU), has put massive pressure on farmers who buy grain to feed their livestock.
NFU President Peter Kendal was discussing the worst wheat growth in the UK since the 1980’s when he said, “The challenge for the pig and poultry market is trying to make sure that retailers pay a fair price, because in pigs 50% of the cost is grain, poultry it’s 60% – and these farmers at the moment, because the prices haven’t responded yet, they’re actually saying I’m not going to fill my sheds with poultry or pigs any more.”
The problems faced by farmers in the UK and the global increase in wheat prices are both adding to fears over rises in food prices reports the BBC News wesbsite. But The extreme weather has taken its toll on the amount of food produced and the quality of food and grain.
Martyn Jones, from the Morrisons supermarket chain, said that, for example, carrots were not quite as sweet as previous years, and the available volumes of some food was down – about 25% across most potatoes and root crops.
The worst hit areas in the UK this summer were in the South-West where a huge proportion of UK crops are produced. Ian Johnson, south-west England spokesman for the NFU, said this year’s weather had led to a “mixed picture” for arable farmers.
He said while wheat crops had suffered, winter barley yields were up 1.6%; spring barley yields were down 7.4% and oilseed rape yields were up 5.9%.
But still for some such as Paul Harris, an arable farmer in Dorset, the difficulties look set to continue. He said, “I’ve been farming now for 40 years and it’s the worst harvest I have ever known.”
More about NFU…
Now I know the subject of grain production in 2012 has generally been approached with sighs and groans but we here at IMD HQ have received a release from the WorldWatch Organisation that has made for very interesting reading.
Despite climactic problems in pretty much every farming region across the world this year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has suggested that the Global grain production is expected to reach a record high of 2.4 billion tons in 2012.
This comes as stark contrast to the early indications which had seen fears of a low quality grain harvest grow. In fact according to the report this is an increase of 1% from 2011 levels and that’s not all. The production of grain for animal feed is growing the fastest- a 2.1% increase from 2011.
According to the International Grains Council 571 million tons were used last year for human consumption, with India consuming a grand 89 million tons.
However it is no secret that fierce drought in the Great Plains of USA have severely altered estimates on Maize production this year where it is most productive (in 2011 it was expected to reach a record 345million tonnes). This has led to a huge deficit expected for 2012/13 – 13% to be precise – and FAO have warned that with increased production also comes increased consumption.
“The relationship between food security, grain production, and climate change is especially important in 2012,” said Danielle Nierenberg, a Worldwatch senior researcher and Nourishing the Planet project director. “The recent drought affecting the United States and the rest of the world show the need to reduce price volatility, move away from fossil fuel-based agriculture, and recognize the importance of women farmers to increase resilience to climate change.”
If you would like to learn more about the Nourishing the Planet Project please click on the link above, you can also visit the blog at blogs.worldwatch.org/nourishingtheplanet.
The Midwestern region of the United States has experienced uncharacteristically hot weather in the last few weeks, which are a crucial time for crop farms. The region otherwise known as the Corn Belt has seen record temperatures reach over 105 Fahrenheit in recent weeks as reported by Reuters.
Drought conditions in the past week across the central United States have intensified, causing damage to crops in Missouri, Indiana and Southern Illinois. Some farmers are being forced into cutting stunted corn for silage, a low grade feed for cattle. The percentage of corn rated Good to Excellent dropped by 8% this week to just 40% and with the forecast of rain expected to miss the areas where it is most needed crop conditions look set stay at dangerously low levels.
The question now for corn crop is ‘just how low will stocks be?’, a stark contrast to initial expectations of a record harvest for 2012.
Corn prices closed at $6.72 per bushel and increased by 21.0% in June due to a substantial deterioration in crop conditions reports AGWeb.com. Fears of tight supplies have also left soybean prices higher, in June prices rose by around 13% just close at $15.13 per bushel.
Wheat stocks as of June 1, 2012 were estimated at 743 million bushels, a 14% decrease from a year prior leading to a 14.2% increase in price for this month at around $7.39 per bushel.