Archive for the ‘Food Shortages’ Category

US Census Bureau: 1/2 Americans Low-income or Poor

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.The latest census data depict a middle class that’s shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government’s safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

Mayors in 29 cities say more than 1 in 4 people needing emergency food assistance did not receive it. Many formerly middle-class Americans are dropping below the low-income threshold — roughly $45,000 for a family of four — because of pay cuts, a forced reduction of work hours or a spouse losing a job.

States in the South and West had the highest shares of low-income families, including Arizona, New Mexico and South Carolina, which have scaled back or eliminated aid programs for the needy. By raw numbers, such families were most numerous in California and Texas, each with more than 1 million.

About 97.3 million Americans fall into a low-income category, commonly defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level, based on a new supplemental measure by the Census Bureau that is designed to provide a fuller picture of poverty. Together with the 49.1 million who fall below the poverty line and are counted as poor, they number 146.4 million, or 48 percent of the U.S. population. That’s up by 4 million from 2009, the earliest numbers for the newly developed poverty measure.

Even by traditional measures, many working families are hurting.

Following the recession that began in late 2007, the share of working families who are low income has risen for three straight years to 31.2 percent, or 10.2 million. That proportion is the highest in at least a decade, up from 27 percent in 2002, according to a new analysis by the Working Poor Families Project and the Population Reference Bureau, a nonprofit research group based in Washington.

Among low-income families, about one-third were considered poor while the remainder — 6.9 million — earned income just above the poverty line. Many states phase out eligibility for food stamps, Medicaid, tax credit and other government aid programs for low-income Americans as they approach 200 percent of the poverty level.

Paychecks for low-income families are shrinking. The inflation-adjusted average earnings for the bottom 20 percent of families have fallen from $16,788 in 1979 to just under $15,000, and earnings for the next 20 percent have remained flat at $37,000. In contrast, higher-income brackets had significant wage growth since 1979, with earnings for the top 5 percent of families climbing 64 percent to more than $313,000.

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– Research thanks to John P.

 

UN: World Food Prices Highest in at Least 20 Years

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Prices for major crops climbed Thursday as a U.N. agency said food costs are now at their highest point since the agency began tracking them 20 years ago.

Global prices have surged 2.2 percent just in the past month, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. The FAO’s index, which measures the price of staple food items and big commercial crops like corn and soybeans, reached its highest level since 1990.

The price increases have been driven by cereals, meat and dairy products. After rising for eight months, global prices of corn, wheat and soybeans are near record levels set in 2008, when riots erupted in countries like Haiti and U.S. food prices jumped.

U.S. consumers are relatively shielded from the higher grain costs. Average incomes are higher in the United States than in most of the world. And the cost of grain represents only a small portion of the prices U.S. consumers pay for food products. Still, U.S. prices are expected to creep up later this year for items ranging from poultry to soda to wheat bread.

In the developing world, the effects have been dire. Higher food prices have pushed an estimated 44 million people into extreme poverty. Economists think the problem could worsen as governments curtail grain exports to increase their own stockpiles.

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Food prices ‘will double by 2030’, Oxfam warns

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

The prices of staple foods will more than double in 20 years unless world leaders take action to reform the global food system, Oxfam has warned.

By 2030, the average cost of key crops will increase by between 120% and 180%, the charity forecasts.

Half of that increase will be caused by climate change, Oxfam predicts, in its report Growing a Better Future.

It calls on world leaders to improve regulation of food markets and invest in a global climate fund.

“The food system must be overhauled if we are to overcome the increasingly pressing challenges of climate change, spiralling food prices and the scarcity of land, water and energy,” said Barbara Stocking, Oxfam’s chief executive.

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John Holdren relishing Congress climate opportunity

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

– “Any objective look at what science has to say about climate change ought to be sufficient to persuade reasonable people that the climate is changing and that humans are responsible for a substantial part of that – and that these changes are doing harm and will continue to do more harm unless we start to reduce our emissions.

– Speaking to BBC News at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Washington DC, Professor John Holdren

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The US president’s chief science adviser says the nation’s current efforts to tackle climate change are insufficient in the long-term.

Speaking to BBC News at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Washington DC, Professor John Holdren said the current US Congress was unlikely to pass new legislation to put a price on CO2 emissions.

President Obama’s administration’s efforts, he said, would instead have to focus on developing cleaner technologies, expanding the use of nuclear power and improving energy efficiency.

But he admits that in the long term, these initiatives on their own will not be enough.

“Ultimately, we will have to look to a future Congress for the more comprehensive approach that climate change will require,” he said.

For the time being, Professor Holdren faces a more sceptical Congress than he would like, and one that proposes a series of congressional hearings to assess the science of climate change.

Professor Holdren says he is relishing the opportunity.

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Food – a growing and very dangerous problem

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

– The news is beginning to show ominous patterns on the subject of food.   Prices are rising, many countries and their populations are near the limit of what they can pay for food before serious food shortages and starvation ensue.   And, inevitably following such events will come political instability, mass migrations and increased violence and fundamentalism.   It is not a pretty picture.   And, it’s been on the approach for some time now.

Reflect on the collection of stories below.   – Dennis

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from history.com:

Sinaloa, the “Breadbasket of Mexico,” devotes over three quarters of its landmass to agricultural production. It is the country’s leading producer of rice and vegetables, and the second largest producer of wheat and beans. Fishing and livestock provide additional revenue, as does Mazatlán’s canning facility, the largest in Latin America…  Agriculture accounts for about 21 percent of the state’s economy.

from Investor Daily 2/11/11:

According to Sysco’s notice sent out this week:
“The early reports [from Sinaloa] are still coming in but most are showing losses of crops in the range of 80 to 100%. Even shade house product was hit by the extremely cold temps. It will take 7-10 days to have a clearer picture from growers and field supervisors, but these growing regions haven’t had cold like this in over half a century.”

China and Drought

China has announced $1 billion in funding to help farmers fight the country’s devastating droughts, according to The Guardian.

The country is facing its worst drought in 60 years right where it hurts the most, the wheat producing province of Shangdong.

China and Russia

The dramatic rise in the price of food commodities for some of the world’s most populous countries is hitting Russia and China hard, according to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.He points out in The Telegraph that the situation is getting worse for Russia and China, and that wheat is not the only worry.

The problem is not just the dramatic 70% rise in wheat prices due to the drought and fires around the Black Sea, but also massive Chinese imports of corn. Corn has increased in price by 40% since June due to that Chinese demand.

–  (Dennis) In addition to the above, which are just the items floating by in the news now, consider the following which I’ve commented/reported on previously:

Americans in Poverty

25 Countries on the brink

The coming Dangerous Year

One Harvest away from Chaos

Wheat Rust never sleeps

Britain and coming Food Shortages

Wheat Crop Time Bomb

Food Shortages and Civilization

–  (Dennis) There are many more similar articles out there.

– Take a look and see if you can find serious upbeat articles saying we have plenty of food capacity and that it’ll all be right in a few months or years as the world reorganizes and copes effeciently with this looming problem.

– Can’t find many?   I’m not surprised.

– Research thanks to Johnathan S. and Kael L. and others.

Number of Americans living in poverty ‘increases by 4m’

Friday, January 28th, 2011

One in seven Americans was living in poverty in 2009 with the level of working-age poor the highest since the 1960s, the US Census Bureau says.

The number of people in poverty increased by nearly 4m – to 43.6m – between 2008 and 2009, officials said.

The bureau defines poverty as any family of four living on less than $21,954 a year.

Meanwhile, new figures showed home foreclosures in August hit the highest level since the mortgage crisis began.

Banks repossessed 95,364 properties in August, up 3% from July and an increase of 25% from August 2009, said RealtyTrac, a company which charts the national picture.

The official US poverty rate in 2009 rose to 14.3% from 13.2% in 2008. In 2009, 43.6 million Americans lived in poverty, up from 39.8 million the year before, the third consecutive increase, the bureau said.

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The 25 Countries Whose Governments Could Get Crushed By Food Price Inflation

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Food inflation is now a reality for much of the world. It contributed to the overthrow of the Tunisian government, has led to riots across the Middle East and North Africa, driven up costs in China and India, and may only be getting started.

Whether you blame a bad crop or bad monetary policy, food inflation is here.

Nomura produced a research report detailing the countries that would be crushed in a food crisis. One, Tunisia, has already seen its government overthrown.

Their description of a food crisis is a prolonged price spike. They calculate the states that have the most to lose by a formula including:

  • Nominal GDP per capita in USD at market exchange rates.
  • The share of food in total household consumption.
  • Net food exports as a percentage of GDP.

We’ve got the top 25 countries in danger here and the list, including a major financial center, may surprise you.

– To see the list of 25 counties click the arrow…

The year of living dangerously

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Rising commodity prices and extreme weather events threaten global stability

Get ready for a rocky year. From now on, rising prices, powerful storms, severe droughts and floods, and other unexpected events are likely to play havoc with the fabric of global society, producing chaos and political unrest. Start with a simple fact: the prices of basic food staples are already approaching or exceeding their 2008 peaks, that year when deadly riots erupted in dozens of countries around the world.

It’s not surprising then that food and energy experts are beginning to warn that 2011 could be the year of living dangerously — and so could 2012, 2013, and on into the future. Add to the soaring cost of the grains that keep so many impoverished people alive a comparable rise in oil prices — again nearing levels not seen since the peak months of 2008 — and you can already hear the first rumblings about the tenuous economic recovery being in danger of imminent collapse. Think of those rising energy prices as adding further fuel to global discontent.

Already, combined with staggering levels of youth unemployment and a deep mistrust of autocratic, repressive governments, food prices have sparked riots in Algeria and mass protests in Tunisia that, to the surprise of the world, ousted long-time dictator President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his corrupt extended family. And many of the social stresses evident in those two countries are present across the Middle East and elsewhere. No one can predict where the next explosion will occur, but with food prices still climbing and other economic pressures mounting, more upheavals appear inevitable. These may be the first resource revolts to catch our attention, but they won’t be the last.

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The world is only one poor harvest away from chaos

Friday, January 14th, 2011

BY Lester Brown

12 JAN 2011 3:39 PM

Our early 21st century civilization is in trouble. We need not go beyond the world food economy to see this. Over the last few decades we have created a food production bubble — one based on environmental trends that cannot be sustained, including overpumping aquifers, overplowing land, and overloading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide.

If we cannot reverse these trends, economic decline is inevitable. No civilization has survived the ongoing destruction of its natural support systems. Nor will ours.

Thos who forget history are doomed to re-heat it

The archeological records of earlier civilizations indicate that more often than not it was food shortages that led to their downfall. Food appears to be the weak link for our global civilization as well. And unlike the recent U.S. housing bubble, the food bubble is global.

The question is not whether the food bubble will burst but when. While the U.S. housing bubble was created by the overextension of credit, the food bubble is based on the overuse of land and water resources. It is further threatened by the climate stresses deriving from the excessive burning of fossil fuels. When the U.S. housing bubble burst, it sent shockwaves through the world economy, culminating in the worst recession since the Great Depression. When the food bubble bursts, food prices will soar worldwide, threatening economic and political stability everywhere. For those living on the lower rungs of the global economic ladder, survival itself could be at stake.

The danger signs are everywhere. In the summer of 2010, record high temperatures scorched Moscow from late June through mid-August. Western Russia was so hot and dry in early August that 300 to 400 new fires were starting every day.

The average temperature in Moscow for July was a scarcely believable 14 degrees Fahrenheit above the norm. Watching the heat wave play out over the seven-week period on the TV evening news, with the thousands of fires and smoke everywhere, was like watching a horror film. Over 56,000 people died in the extreme heat. Russia’s 140 million people were in shock, traumatized by what was happening to them and their country .

The record heat shrank Russia’s grain harvest from roughly 100 million tons to 60 million tons. This 40-percent drop and the associated grain export ban helped drive world wheat prices up 60 percent in two months, raising bread prices worldwide.

Crop ecologists estimate that for each 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees F) rise in temperature above the norm during the growing season, grain yields decline by roughly 10 percent. In parts of Western Russia, the spring wheat crop was totally destroyed by the crop-withering heat and drought. As the Earth’s temperature rises, the likelihood of more numerous, more intense heat waves increases.

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– Research thanks to LA

Hunger index shows one billion without enough food

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

One billion people in the world were undernourished in 2009, according to a new report.

The 2010 Global Hunger Index shows that child malnutrition is the biggest cause of hunger worldwide, accounting for almost half of those affected.

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia were shown to have the highest levels of hunger.

The report’s authors called on nations to tackle child malnutrition in order to reduce global hunger.

The Global Hunger Index is produced by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines hunger as the consumption of fewer than 1,800 kilocalories a day – the minimum required to live a healthy and productive life.

Despite the number of undernourished people in the world falling between 1990 and 2006, the report’s authors say in that number has crept up in recent years, with the data from 2009 showing more than one billion hungry people.

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