Sunday, October 26, 2008
BREAKING BREAD: WASHINGTON MAY BE EXACERBATING THE TURBULENT RISE IN PRICES OF FOOD STAPLES AND COMMODITIES WORLDWIDE.
This story has been breaking for nearly a year now. It was first brought to my attention by a series of articles which appeared on Bill Moyers Journal during the spring of this year. In many ways the story of what has been referred to as a “Perfect Storm” brewing around world food shortages and hunger has, during the intervening months, been largely overshadowed by the titanic specter of the worldwide economic crisis as it marches over front pages the world over.
If this is the second coming of the Great Depression, it seems clear now that its scope and reach extends far beyond borders hemmed by “amber waves of grain”. If the abject despair of the Dust Bowl era that followed the economic collapse that led to the Great Depression doesn’t replay here in the US, it certainly appears that a much more egregious scenario might play itself out across the globe, in places like Egypt, Pakistan, The Congo, and recently Hurricane ravaged islands such as Haiti and Cuba.
In many ways, the particulars of the impending tsunami of hunger building are as obscurely complex as the poisonous derivatives and seedy financial instruments that are causing the markets to buck and quake, sending panic across every facet of the global economy.
US Farm Policy must certainly factor into the equation when we think about the availability and affordability of food worldwide. When the poorest people around the world are forced to rely on the supply of cheaper grain produced under lavish subsidies because it is simply economically unfeasible to produce their own crops domestically due to insurmountable hurdles of overhead vs. profit; something is dreadfully wrong.
I think Bill Moyers speaks more eloquently than I ever could on this. In an April 11, 2008 article “CASH COWS & COWBOY STARTER KITS”, he introduced his piece with a short commentary, during which he said,
-- “As so many people face empty fridges and bare pantries, American farmers are going all-out to meet the world-wide demand for food — and earning record prices for their efforts, as they should. Farm income almost doubled last year, and is now reaching an all time high. With grain prices skyrocketing and the federal deficit out of sight, this would seem the moment to cut back on those tens of billions of dollars that taxpayers shower on milk producers, cotton and rice farmers, and growers of corn, soybeans, wheat, and sugar — subsidies that keep coming whether they're needed or not. Our farm policies frankly are a ramshackle, a costly mess — a monster jerrybuilt by politics. What was supposed to be a temporary financial safety net for imperiled family farmers has become a huge boondoggle for a fraction of wealthy farmers, including landowners who've never gotten close enough to a barn to slip on the manure.”
As I said, I couldn’t have said it any better. Below are some links to some of the articles from Bill Moyers Journal that I honestly feel are deserving of a second look, especially this close to the Presidential elections. We mustn’t forget or ignore those here at home, and abroad who are and who will be struggling for even the most basic of necessities.
Bill Moyers : Cash Cows and Cowboy Starter Kits
FAO Initiative on Soaring Food Prices