July 20, 2012

CHANGE: Corn and soybeans hit record highs, stir food crisis fear. “Corn prices crossed into uncharted territory above $8 per bushel — about three-and-a-half times the average price 10 years ago of $2.28. Soybeans punched past $17 for the first time — also three-and-a-half times the 2002 average. Analysts said that while forecasts for continued dry weather are expected to sustain the rally, corn prices could be vulnerable to any move by the government to lower the amount of corn-based ethanol blenders are required to mix with gasoline. Even as chatter about a possible revision of the ethanol mandate has escalated, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the former governor of top farm state Iowa, has ruled out such a move.”

Related: World Braced for New Food Crisis.

The drought in the US, which supplies nearly half the world’s exports of corn and much of its soyabeans and wheat, will reverberate well beyond its borders, affecting consumers from Egypt to China.

“I’ve been in the business more than 30 years and this is by far and away the most serious weather issue and supply and demand problem that I have seen by a mile,” said a senior executive at a trading house. “It’s not even comparable to 2007-08.”

David Nelson, global strategist at Rabobank, added: “Today the [US crop] disaster is real, whereas to some degree the big run-up in prices in 2008 was speculatively driven.”

Oh, goody.

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