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Low-Price Food Tremor

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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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News Roundup

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No Food Abundance on Earth The World Agricultural Outlook Board just published how much grain farmers produced this farming season around the world. It was 2,476,040,000 metric tons. The Board also estimated how much we would use this year. It will be 2,469,120,000 metric tons. When we do the math, the world’s farmers only produced 2 lbs. of grain more per person than what the world will buy. Now, there are lots of folks who can’t buy enough. If they had money, it is likely that this year folks would eat more than farmers produced. Watch Out for Food in Cans A recent study by Stanford University suggests children may…

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Ancient Grains – People Want Something Different

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Touch the Soil News #191 The research company “Packaged Facts” has recently reported on the stellar rise of ancient grains in U.S. diets. Unlike modern hybrid “gluten” wheat grains – that have removed diversity from human diets – ancient grains are providing a nutritious alternative. The most recent data is for the 52 weeks ending 7/13/14. Following is a short recap of their treks to greater use: Sales of Kamut, also known as Khorasan Wheat, are skyrocketing Kamut – sales up 686 percent. Kamut is the trademark name for Khorasan Wheat. This ancient grain is a wheat species whose kernel is twice the size of modern-day wheat. According to legend,…

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When it Comes to Food – The Three Big Ominous Shadows Humanity Faces (Part 3 of 3)

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Touch the Soil News #163 In part 1, we looked at the shadow cast by topsoil loss. In part 2 we looked at the shadow cast by the financial world as it organized humanity to pave the best farmland. In part 3, we are going to look at a shadow whose path is easily recognized. Grains underpin all baked goods, pastas, meats, poultry products and dairy poducts Nonetheless, grain stocks represent a barometer that can be followed. Each month, the World Agricultural Outlook Board (a USDA committee) estimates what the grain stocks will be and the numbers are adjusted up or down depending upon weather developments, production and consumption. The…

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Can you Name the Largest Food Company in the World? (Part 2 of 2)

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Touch the Soil News # 146 Forbes Magazine and News has been one of the closest followers of Cargill, its finances and its global footprint. In its November 23, 2104 issue, Forbes writer Dan Alexander provided some rare insights into what Cargill is presently doing: Creating a $100 million cocoa plant in Indonesia. Putting in a $91 million livestock-feed factory in Korea. Building a large dairy feed facility in India capable of producing 1.2 million metric tons a year. All in all, Cargill has poured more than $3 billion into upgraded facilities, acquisitions and new projects around the world over the past year. Besides being directly involved with food production,…

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Can you Name the Largest Food Company in the World? (Part 1 of 2)

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Touch the Soil News # 145 Do you know who the world’s largest food company is? Many of us have not heard of this company because it is privately held and does not hit the news often. In fact, it is the largest privately held company in the United States. This does not mean that this company’s role in our food is as obscure as its name. It is a food behemoth that dominates all roads between the world’s farms and your dinner plate. The company’s vision is to be the global leader in nourishing people. Following are some facts of this company: This company has more descendants that are…

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Emerging Specs of a Food-Chain Mega Trend (Part 2 of 2)

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In the realm of theory, our culture likes to believe it is possible for the world to produce (and distribute) enough food for everyone – a world with abundant food. In contrast, investment funds are accumulating – like a storm cloud – to take financial advantage of a world in which food is less than abundant. The largest pension fund management company in the U.S. makes no secret about its emerging target of farmland or why it is doing so. The pension company is called Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America – College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF).  TIAA-CREF manages $426 billion in retirement assets for 3.7 million employees with…

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The Steady Marching of Investment and Wall Street into Farmland

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The USDA reports that the average value of cropland in 2005 was $2,060 an acre. That number increased to $4,200 an acre in 2014.  Cropland values more than doubled in 9 years. The increasing value of farmland and food prices, have encouraged a universe of investors to invest in farmland. There are large pension funds, insurance companies and now, new-on-the-block Wall-Street stock companies. The events often unfold like this: A farmer, facing a need for cash, looks to the equity in farmland that has been so rapidly escalating. The farmer connects with an investor who doesn’t know how to farm, but is willing to buy the farm and lease it…

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Global Food Trade – Will Demand for Food Make Food Gardening More Economically Compelling?

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For most of us, the primary consideration relative to food is income. Do we have the dollars? However, the understandable focus on finances distracts us from the more fundamental food assets. We rarely think of food in terms of farmland, water, fertilizer or an ever growing need for more chairs at the dinner table. Yet, the escalating scarcity of these agricultural assets is creating a global scramble for food. In an informative report (3/10/15), Worldwatch Institute revealed that 77 nations (more than 1/3 of the world’s nations) import at least ¼ of the primary grains they need. This compares to just 49 nations in 1961. The report gets quite specific:…

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