Farm Ministers Agree to Limit Export Bans


The following article is form Bloomberg:

Group of 20 farm ministers agreed to set up a crop database and limit export bans to tackle what French President Nicolas Sarkozy calls the “plague” of rising food prices.

The agreement also includes a call for international market regulation, increased agriculture production and the development of a proposal for emergency food reserves, the ministers said in a declaration distributed after a two-day meeting in Paris today. Food for humanitarian purposes will be exempt from export bans, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said.

The plan is a “victory against hunger,” French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire said at a press conference after the meeting. The database will be developed “rapidly,” he said.

Wheat as much as doubled in the past year as Russia and Ukraine curbed exports after drought decimated crops, adding to record global food prices the World Bank says put 44 million more people into poverty since June last year. Nations will spend $1.29 trillion on food imports this year, the most ever and 21 percent more than in 2010, the United Nations estimates.

“Volatility is a plague on farmers and consumers,” Sarkozy said in a speech to the ministers yesterday. “It can plunge entire populations into famine and poverty.”

All or Nothing

France’s position on the main proposals put to the G-20 ministers was that either all were agreed on or there would be no accord, Le Maire said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on June 20.

“Transparency is an issue,” Abah Ofon, a Singapore-based analyst at Standard Chartered Plc, said in an interview with Susan Li on Bloomberg Television’s First Up. “The market isn’t giving enough signals to farmers and stakeholders” to boost production to make up for potential losses to crops in importing countries, he said.

The last time prices surged, from 2007 to 2009, more than 60 food riots occurred worldwide, according to the U.S. State Department. The G-20 countries account for 65 percent of all farmland and 77 percent of global grain output, according to a statement on the website of the G-20 presidency.

Corn futures advanced 77 percent in the past 12 months in Chicago trading, a global benchmark, rice gained 39 percent and sugar jumped 64 percent.

Ministers should have addressed biofuels policies and steps to help poorer countries build up inventories, Oxfam International said.

Source:  Bloomberg

Posted by Haylie Shipp


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