Media Monitor

Hot and dry weather in much of Europe will substantially reduce crop production, particularly corn, soybeans, and sunflowers.

The European Drought Observatory reports drought is affecting a staggering portion of Europe, with 47 per cent of EU land under the level of “warning” and 17 per cent at the more severe “alert” status.

French farmers are asking their government for billions of euros in compensation for crop and livestock losses.

Politico believes that European farmers have little choice but to adapt to climate change. On the same theme, the Guardian suggests five crops that could feed a climate-changed world: amaranth, fonio, cowpeas, taro, and kernza. (No, I hadn’t heard of them either.)

The world’s cotton crops are suffering from hot, dry weather, with yields falling in India, Brazil, and China. Drought has killed the cotton crop in Texas, but higher cotton prices could spark a revival of cotton in wetter Louisiana.

With almost all of Texas in drought, ranchers are sending more cattle off to slaughter.

Corn prices moved higher this week on evidence that the drought across the US Midwest would reduce yields.

The drought in China is threatening food production, prompting the government to order local authorities to take all available measures to ensure crops survive the hottest summer on record.

China is particularly concerned about its rice crop. The six worst-affected regions, Sichuan, Chongqing, Hubei, Henan, Jiangxi, and Anhui, account for almost half of China’s rice output.

More than 70 days of extreme temperatures and low rainfall have wreaked havoc along the basin of the Yangtze, which supports a third of the country’s crops. The government is using drones and chemicals to seed rainclouds.

The government warns that the country’s temperatures are rising faster than the global average and says it is a sensitive region in global climate change.

India announced restrictions on wheat flour exports. Wheat flour exports jumped 200 per cent after India banned wheat exports last May. There is talk that the country may import wheat and abolish its 40 per cent import tax.

Ukraine has exported almost ten mln mt of agricultural products since Russia invaded, including nearly two mln mt since the beginning of August.

Citing fake shipping documents, Turkey said it will re-impose phytosanitary certification requirements for imports from Ukraine.

Ukraine has restored a rail link to Moldova after a 23-year hiatus. The connection could carry ten mln mt of freight a year.

The UN is working with the EU and the US to overcome obstacles to Russian food and fertiliser exports.

Yara, one of the world’s largest fertilizer makers, is slashing ammonia production due to soaring gas prices. The company announced a 50 per cent cut to its ammonia-based urea and nitrogen fertilizer production in Europe, citing record high gas prices. There are worries that soaring fertiliser prices will deepen Africa’s food crisis

The closure of the UK’s biggest ammonia fertilizer plant could lead to a shortage of CO2, a by-product used in the beer and soft drinks industry and by abattoirs to stun animals before slaughtering them. The plant closure could result in beer shortages and pig pileups, causing alarm among the bacon and beer-loving British.

It is ironic that the world should suffer a shortage of CO2 when there is too much in the atmosphere. At the same time, global methane emissions are rising. The FT warns, “If you think of fossil fuel emissions as putting the world on a slow boil, methane is a blow torch that is cooking us today.”

On a more optimistic note, Brazil’s presidential frontrunner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said his country does not need to cut a single tree to plant more soybeans and sugarcane or raise cattle. He promised to restore law enforcement in the Amazon rainforest to curb deforestation.

The Boston Consulting Group has published a report on alternative proteins, writing that investing in the sector is the most efficient way to reduce global GHG emissions.

The Guardian has called for a windfall tax on food companies. The newspaper erroneously reports that the four ABCD companies – ADM, Bunge, Cargill and LDC– control 70-90 per cent of the global grain trade. (Seven companies – ABCD+ Wilmar, Viterra, and Olam – account for an estimated 45 per cent of the seaborne trade in grains and oilseeds.)

Earlier this year, the UK charity Oxfam also called for a windfall tax on food companies. They made a similar call in 2011 during the last food crisis. (I had forgotten that we had a food crisis in 2011.)

In 2015, the USDA, EPA and FDA set a goal to reduce food loss and waste by 50 per cent by 2030. They still have a long way to go, but new technology, such as an artificial ice cube, could help.

Finally, Bloomberg asks if sail is the future of commercial shipping. The news agency reports that adding a sail to an existing cargo ship can reduce GHG emissions by 20-30 per cent. You can find Bloomberg’s weekly food and agriculture summary here.

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Comment

The UN estimates that retail establishments and the food service industry waste around 931 mln mt of food each year worldwide. If food waste were a country, it would be the third biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for nearly 10 per cent of global GHG emissions.

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