No wheat

More on the price explosion in food, which I think is much more serious than the high price of oil. See Emptying the Breadbasket. Here are some sample facts:

Last year, wheat cost $6 per bushel; this year, it’s $20. Farmers still don’t want to grow it, though, because it is riskier, subject to disease. Research to develop disease-resistance wheat has all but halted, since the public is irrationally scared of genetic alterations. And farmers can make even more money from soybeans (from the Chinese) and corn (from government-subsidized ethanol plants). Besides, the way the farm bill works, farmers can still get wheat subsidies even when they switch their acreages to corn! In the 1980s, half of the nation’s fields grew wheat. Now, only 10% do. Because of the low dollar and desperate foreign governments, our reserves are getting bought out. We now have the lowest amount of grain in storage since World War II, enough to last the world for 4 days.

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  • The Jones

    While I’m impressed that only 10 percent of our nation’s farmland is still the largest producer of wheat in the world, I’m getting very frustrated at the utterly hopeless mess of farm subsidies for things that aren’t very useful (ethonol). I wonder if this is a consequence of the long standing Iowa caucuses, the starting point for all presidential election promises. And it gives me a little hope when I hear McCain say that he will eliminate billions of dollars in farm subsidies. Then farmers will be forced to grow things that people actually want.

  • The Jones

    While I’m impressed that only 10 percent of our nation’s farmland is still the largest producer of wheat in the world, I’m getting very frustrated at the utterly hopeless mess of farm subsidies for things that aren’t very useful (ethonol). I wonder if this is a consequence of the long standing Iowa caucuses, the starting point for all presidential election promises. And it gives me a little hope when I hear McCain say that he will eliminate billions of dollars in farm subsidies. Then farmers will be forced to grow things that people actually want.

  • Don S

    This reminds me of Stalin’s notorious 5 year plans back in the 30’s in the old Soviet Union. Central planning by the government — never worked, never will.

    I have to believe that sooner or later the economics will be such that more acres of wheat will be planted. But maybe it will take a crisis of this nature to finally uproot the farm subsidy program, or at least make it more rational.

  • Don S

    This reminds me of Stalin’s notorious 5 year plans back in the 30’s in the old Soviet Union. Central planning by the government — never worked, never will.

    I have to believe that sooner or later the economics will be such that more acres of wheat will be planted. But maybe it will take a crisis of this nature to finally uproot the farm subsidy program, or at least make it more rational.

  • Diversity, diversity! Why don’t our farmers grow more rye, spelt, kamut, etc? Wheat is a top five allergen. If a farmer had fields dedicated to similar grains, then a blight wouldn’t wipe him out, it would only wipe out part of his crops.

  • Diversity, diversity! Why don’t our farmers grow more rye, spelt, kamut, etc? Wheat is a top five allergen. If a farmer had fields dedicated to similar grains, then a blight wouldn’t wipe him out, it would only wipe out part of his crops.