by F. William Engdahl
from NEO Website
It is, however, a look at unusual weather disasters in several key growing regions from the USA to Australia, the Philippines and beyond that could dramatically affect food availability and prices in the coming year.
That in turn could have
major political implications depending on how the rest of the
growing season develops.
Of course, should weather
dramatically improve the final harvest numbers could improve. It is
simply too early to predict.
The U.S. is also the world largest corn or maize producer, almost double China, the number two.
A serious harvest failure
in these two crops could significantly affect world food prices,
leaving aside the unfortunate fact that almost all U.S. soybeans and
GMO crops. They are mainly used in
Record snowfall followed
by abnormally heavy rains are the reason.
El Niño is the periodic
warming of the equatorial eastern and central Pacific Ocean.
They occur in cycles every several years, usually every two to seven years, and it is notable that there is a confirmed, if relatively weak El Niño which is expected to reach peak this month of May.
The NOAA in April
estimated that the current El Niño conditions are likely to continue
through the Northern Hemisphere for spring 2019 (~80% chance) and
summer (~60% chance).
For the first time since 2007 Australia is being forced to import wheat, mainly from Canada. Last year drought caused a 20% crop harvest reduction. The Government has issued a bulk import permit to deal with the situation.
Current wheat harvest
estimates are for only 16 million metric tons, half of what it was
two seasons ago. Australia is in recent years the number five world
wheat export nation.
Although the country is
not one of the world top rice producers - India, Thailand,
Vietnam and Pakistan comprise a total of some 70% all
rice export - it has significant political impact on the troubled
There rainfall so far this year is lowest since 1982. State media reports that a "severe drought has been lingering in all parts" of the country. The average precipitation since January is only 42.3% of the average annual precipitation of 5 inches. This comes as the country experiences significant food shortages.
While data is likely
politicized, effect of international sanctions do
USDA estimates that as many as 200 million pigs must be slaughtered this year if the contagion is to be at all contained. China is the world's largest pig producer by far with some 700 million.
As if this were not bad
enough, the country is being hit by a plague of
Fall Armyworms which could
devastate crops such as corn or soybeans across China.
This current 2019/2020
harvest year, Russia is estimated to export a record 49.4 million
tons of wheat, some 10% above a year ago. Last year Russia accounted
for 21% of total world wheat exports compared with around 14% for
the USA and about the same for Canada.
banned GMO plantings or imports in
2016, and enjoys some of the most productive black earth soils on
the planet. At least in the short term, Russia stands well suited to
step in to address the various harvest shortfalls in the world grain
During the Soviet harvest failures of the early 1970's it was Secretary of State Henry Kissinger who orchestrated, with the complicity of Cargill and the grain cartel, sale of tons of grain to the USSR at enormously inflated prices in what came to be called the Great Grain Robbery, sending grain prices in the Chicago commodity exchanges to 125 year highs.
Combined with the 1973-74
OPEC 400% oil price shock, one in which the sneaky diplomacy of the
same Kissinger played a central role, food and oil were responsible
for the great inflation of the 1970's, not the wage
demands of American or European workers as we were