Drought in US Corn Belt; food supply in jeopardy

The US government has slashed estimates for global food supply after a drought withered corn and soybean crops in mid-west part of the country.

Updated: Aug 11, 2012, 15:00 PM IST

Washington: The US government has slashed estimates for global food supply after a historic drought withered corn and soybean crops in the mid-west part of the country, and has put the food supply chain of poorer, import-reliant nations in jeopardy.

US corn and soybeans are crucial to the global food supply chain as they are used for food, feed, cooking oil, and even motor fuel, and a reduced supply and higher prices meant that poorer, import-dependent nations may not be able to replenish their food stocks.

American officials slashed estimates for nearly everything in the US cornucopia, including corn, soybeans, and sorghum, which has resulted in an increase in commodity and grocery prices.

“This is shocking. This is getting people at the United Nations very concerned. The poor in the world are going to see tremendous pressure on their budgetary expenditure for calories. This has become a very scary situation, particularly for those in the world who are impoverished,” the Christian Science Monitor quoted Dan Basse, the president of Ag Resources, as saying.

According to the report, the hottest July on record and scant rainfall have created the widest US drought since 1956, wiping out much of the corn and soybean crops, which are used globally and domestically for food, feed, and ethanol production.

In the US, which is the world’s top exporter of corn, more than half the crop is now considered in “poor” condition, the report said.

Higher commodity prices mean poorer countries will import much less, putting millions of people on the lower rungs of the global food chain in jeopardy, and potentially creating a situation similar to the world food crisis of 2007-08, it added.