The Group of 20 top economies will meet shortly to try and coordinate a response to soaring food prices, driven by drought and rising demand, the Financial Times reported Monday.
Over the weekend, US President Barack Obama called on Congress to help farmers struggling with the worst US drought in half a century after the US Department of Agriculture warned of sharply rising crop prices.
The USDA said corn prices could hit $8.90 a bushel, up sharply on its July estimate, with soybean at up to $15-17 a bushel, $2.00 more.
Record temperatures in July left both crops badly damaged, pushing yields per acre for corn to the lowest level since 1995 and, for soybeans, the lowest since 2003, it said.
The Financial Times said concerns over the US harvest had prompted senior G20 and United Nations officials to consider an emergency meeting on food supply, with a conference call on the issue scheduled for August 27.
The newspaper cited officials as saying the talks were not a sign of panic but rather reflected the need to establish a consensus so as to avoid a repeat of the riots and tensions sparked in 2007-08 by a spike in food prices.
The Financial Times reported Friday that the head of the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization had urged the United States to suspend its bio-fuel production programs so as to ease the pressure on food resources.
The FAO said last week that global food prices rose 6.0 percent in July after dropping for three months, largely because of a hike in grains and sugar.
[images via Agence France-Presse]