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Are we Glad not to be in the UK?

Touch the Soil News #812 (Feature photo – UK Coat of Arms – CC SA 3.0) For decades, the United Kingdom has been working with the larger European Continent. The beginnings of commercial cooperation for the EU nations began back in 1951 and culminated in the formal creation of the EU in 1993. Now, almost 25 years later, the United Kingdom is looking to exit the European Union. While the politics are ablaze about the decision of the UK to exit the European Union, working out the nuts and bolts of “surgical separation” is not so easy and not without consequences. Estimates are that two thirds of the land need…

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Cost of Food – Up

Touch the Soil News #815 (Feature photo – National Institutes of Health – public domain) Each fall, the American Farm Bureau Federation publishes statistics on food price increases. For 2017, there have been several foods that have seen above average increases. Following is a list of the foods that have had big price increases over last year:   Bacon is up 19 percent to $5.24 per pound Chicken breast is up 9 percent to $3.13 per pound Flour is up 7 percent to $2.37 per 5-pound bag Orange juice is up 6 percent to $3.46 per half-gallon Vegetable oil is up 5 percent to $2.52 for a 32 oz. bottle…

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Global Food Prices – Trending Up

Touch the Soil News #772 (feature photo public domain – hungry Somali children wait for food aid) The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) keeps track of the price of basic foodstuffs. It is no secret that many folks have difficulty translating their labor and work ethic into money to buy food. An increase in the price of food can add tens of millions of people to the ranks of the starving almost overnight. The FAO established a Food Price index that started out in its base year (2004) at 100. Today, the index stands at 179.1 – an almost 80 percent increase over the last 13…

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What is a Food Tremor?

Touch the Soil News #635 A food tremor is something more than background noise. It casts a hint of what a food problem can grow into. For example, in nature tremors often foreshadow a volcanic eruption or earthquake.   Food Tremors Now Happening The global demand for vegetable cooking oil is so great it is driving rainforest demolition and people exploitation. Peoples of all nations are competing voraciously for the same pool of cooking oils (palm oil, soybean oil, canola oil and olive oil). This tremor can drive food inflation. Congested crop farming leaves little room for nature to mitigate disease. Wheat rust is a fungal disease that compromises wheat,…

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More Powerful Than Politicians

Touch the Soil News #544 The global financial system and the world’s resource limitations – having evolved together over the last few centuries – represent a momentum that eclipses any world leader. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a division of the United Nations that keeps tab on the price of food. The variables that drive the price of food are weather, demand and the ability of the global financial world to deliver purchasing power to the masses. The FAO food price index was established using a base of 100 which represents the price of many different agricultural commodities as of the year 2004. In the aftermath of the…

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Food Shocks versus Oil Shocks

Touch the Soil News #494 We are all familiar with oil-price shocks that send the cost of gasoline skyrocketing. When oil prices surge, economists create models of how everything we buy is impacted by the underlying cost of oil. Recently the Brookings Institute published an economic study on the effects of food price increases on the American economy. Authored by Jamien De Winne and Gert Peersman from Ghent University, the study found that a 5 percent jump in food commodity prices leads to higher inflation and slower economic growth equivalent to a 10 percent oil-price increase. Price increases in food have twice the negative impact on the economy as price…

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Low-Price Food Tremor

Touch the Soil News #465 Wheat farmers in America rise and fall on the USDA’s reports of production. If the USDA reports production is up, speculators say there is an oversupply and farm prices often collapse. The USDA’s August 2016 World Supply Report reveals that the world will produce 743 million metric tonnes of wheat this season. This is 4 percent more than what was produced in the 2013 season. Since 2013, wheat prices and profitability of wheat farming have plummeted. The seal of the USDA. Unfortunately, the production estimates of the USDA often are the basis for speculation that can artificially drive prices down (hurting farmers) or drive prices…

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Food Tremor – A Spooky Thing

Touch the Soil News #441 The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a division of the United Nations. The FAO sits on the pulse of world food. The FAO maintains a Food Price Index. The Index follows the fluctuations in food prices. The flow of food to people only happens to the extent that there is money to facilitate the connection of supply and demand. The FAO Food Price index is the first warning signal that in a world organized around monetary mediums – price escalations can quickly overwhelm global resources (distribution and acquisition). The efficiency of money to connect supply with demand falls far short. Hence, over the past…

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Organics Up, While Overall Food Spending is Colossal

Touch the Soil News #397 Just in, the Organic Trade Association reported that sales of organic foods in 2015 were up a whopping 11 percent over 2014. Organic food sales of $43.3 billion in 2015 represents about five (5) percent of the food sold in the U.S. Since 2006, when organic sales were approximately $17 billion, the sales in 2015 represent a 250 percent increase over the past 10 years. The Organic Trade Associations reports that supply channels for organics continue to be constrained, particularly in grains and dairy products. Over the past few years, a number of major retailers have gotten involved in producing organic food themselves, often by…

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Russia to the World – We’re Curtailing Food Imports and Raising Our Own

Touch the Soil News #368 Amid Western economic sanctions against Russia – for its intervention into the Ukraine – Russia decided to fight back economically to the Western World. One of Russia’s actions included the stopping of food imports from Europe and other Western nations. At stake are historical Russian purchases (imports) of foreign food to the tune of almost $44 billion a year. By 2015, Russia had cut those purchases by almost 40 percent. They plan more cuts in the future. Farmers in Europe and other parts are feeling the economic pain of this large market loss. A recent Bloomberg report found that Russia is working diligently to increase…

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