Richard Moore

Original source URL:

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                MAY 11, 2007


SASKATOON, Sask.‹Today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 
released its first projections of world grain supply and demand for the coming 
crop year: 2007/08. USDA predicts supplies will plunge to a 53-day 
equivalent‹their lowest level in the 47-year period for which data exists.

³The USDA projects global grain supplies will drop to their lowest levels on 
record.  Further, it is likely that, outside of wartime, global grain supplies 
have not been this low in a century, perhaps longer,² said NFU Director of 
Research Darrin Qualman.

Most important, 2007/08 will mark the seventh year out of the past eight in 
which global grain production has fallen short of demand.  This consistent 
shortfall has cut supplies in half‹down from a 115-day supply in 1999/00 to the 
current level of 53 days.  ³The world is consistently failing to produce as much
grain as it uses,² said Qualman.  He continued: ³The current low supply levels 
are not the result of a transient weather event or an isolated production 
problem: low supplies are the result of a persistent drawdown trend.²

In addition to falling grain supplies, global fisheries are faltering.  Reports 
in respected journals Science and Nature state that 1/3 of ocean fisheries are 
in collapse, 2/3 will be in collapse by 2025, and our ocean fisheries may be 
virtually gone by 2048.  ³Aquatic food systems are collapsing, and terrestrial 
food systems are under tremendous stress,² said Qualman.

Demand for food is rising rapidly.  There is a worldwide push to proliferate a 
North American- style meat-based diet based on intensive livestock 
production‹turning feedgrains into meat in this way means exchanging 3 to 7 
kilos of grain protein for one kilo of meat protein.  Population is rising‹2.5 
billion people will join the global population in the coming decades.  ³Every 
six years, we¹re adding to the world the equivalent of a North American 
population.  We¹re trying to feed those extra people, feed a growing livestock 
herd, and now, feed our cars, all from a static farmland base.  No one should be
surprised that food production can¹t keep up,² said Qualman.

Qualman said that the converging problems of natural gas and fertilizer 
constraints, intensifying water shortages, climate change, farmland loss and 
degradation, population increases, the proliferation of livestock feeding, and 
an increasing push to divert food supplies into biofuels means that we are in 
the opening phase of an intensifying food shortage.

Qualman cautioned, however, that there are no easy fixes.  ³If we try to do more
of the same, if we try to produce, consume, and export more food while using 
more fertilizer, water, and chemicals, we will only intensify our problems.  
Instead, we need to rethink our relation to food, farmers, production, 
processing, and distribution.  We need to create a system focused on feeding 
people and creating health.  We need to strengthen the food production systems 
around the world.  Diversity, resilience, and sustainability are key,² concluded

For More Information:
Darrin Qualman, Director of Research:  (306) 652-9465
Stewart Wells, NFU President:   (306) 773-6852
National Office
2717 Wentz Ave.
Saskatoon, Sask., S7K 4B6
Tel  (306) 652-9465
Fax (306) 664-6226

Backgrounder to the NFU¹s May 11, 2007 news release

The United States Department of Agriculture reports recent grain supply and 
demand numbers on its World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) 
website at 

The longer-term data on world grains supply and demand is at Production, Supply,
and Demand Online (PSD) at http://www.fas.usda.gov/psdonline/psdhome.aspx

The NFU created the graph below using USDA data from the above-noted sites.  The
graph takes stocks/use ratios (³ending stocks² divided by ³total use²) and 
multiplies these percentages by 365 to get a more intuitive ³days of supply² 

World total grains, days of supply: 1960/01 - 2007/08

[chart in original]

Note that the graph projects supplies for the upcoming year to hit their lowest 
record levels‹ lower even than the 1973 levels that spurred a rapid price 
increase.  Note also the unprecedented and steep downward trendline for the past
8 years.

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