Media Monitor

The EU will ban imports of products that have contributed to recent deforestation or forest degradation. The ban will cover palm oil, cattle, soy, coffee, cocoa, timber, rubber, beef, furniture, chocolate, printed paper, and selected palm oil-based derivates.

An impact assessment from the EC estimates that the new law will protect at least 71,920 ha of forest annually and reduce annual global carbon emissions by 31.9 million mt.

Global conservation efforts, currently focused on the COP15 summit in Montreal, will fail unless they address the underlying issue of food production. A shift to vegan diets and cultured meats could help.

However, the FT questions whether people will want to eat lab-grown meat. As for plant-based meat, Beyond Meat product sales have fallen 22.5 per cent in one year, and their share price is down 77 per cent so far this year. (Tofu won’t save the planet, either.)

But if you want to reduce the carbon footprint of your food, focus on what you eat, not whether your food is local. (This is an excellent article. I highly recommend it.)

Perhaps the solution is to close livestock farms. The Dutch government is doing just that by planning to purchase and close up to 3,000 farms to comply with EU environmental mandates to slash emissions. The government will offer farmers “well over” the worth of their farm to encourage them to sell voluntarily.

New Zealand is trying a different approach with its proposed fart tax on livestock methane emissions. With more than 50,000 farms, over 10 million cows and 26 million sheep, farming is responsible for more than half of the country’s GHG emissions.

Cargill’s CEO told Bloomberg that the sluggish pace of vessel inspections has recently slowed Ukraine’s grain exports. “The challenge is the working conditions for the port workers and all the infrastructure that goes into getting the crops out,” he said.

He added that Cargill sticks by its decision to keep operating in Russia. “We feed the people of Russia, and that food also feeds people in the Middle East and Africa. For us to leave would’ve been detrimental,” he said. However, if they decide to leave, there is a buyer for Cargill’s (and Viterra’s) Russian assets.

Russia’s total grain exports, excluding supplies to Kazakhstan, Armenia and Belarus, are expected to reach 26 million mt in July-December, up 10 per cent from a year ago.

At a time when the West should be doing all it can to help Ukrainian farmers, Poland has asked the EU to impose restrictions on imports of some foods from Ukraine.

The WSJ reports that a Russian oligarch has seized 400,000 acres of Ukrainian farmland, becoming one of the biggest farm operators in the country.

Contrary to what you might have read, at 270,000 acres, Bill Gates is not the largest owner of US farmland. The title goes to the chairman of Liberty Media Corp, who owns 2.2 million acres. But even that is small beer compared to the 900 million farm acres in the US.

It’s been a tough weather year for California’s farmers, although advances in plant breeding have made modern crops more resilient to dry weather than they were 20 years ago.

Australian farmers have had better luck and could produce a record wheat crop despite heavy flooding.

Brazil is also doing well. Conab has forecast Brazil’s total grain crop at a record 312.2 million mt, up 15 per cent from the previous year. The government agency pins soybean production at 153.48 million mt, up 22.2 per cent year-on-year, and expects corn output to jump 11.2 per cent to 125.83 million mt.

India’s spending on subsidized food grain to the poor may rise to 2.7 trillion rupees ($32.74 billion) this fiscal year, 30 per cent more than the 2.07 trillion rupees ($25.14 billion) estimated in the budget.

The easing of Covid restrictions in China may ease some pressure on farmers struggling to get their crops to market.

The European Commission has extended the EU authorization for the use of the herbicide glyphosate until the end of 2023. The authorization had been due to expire on December 15 of this year.

A post-Brexit farm-subsidy scheme designed to reward landowners in England for environmental work is going forward after a controversial review. Even so, the National Farmers Union has warned that the UK is sleepwalking into a food crisis, fuelled by rising costs, falling yields, and labour shortages.

UK supermarkets, meanwhile, are making record profits. The country’s government has said it will not intervene in food pricing.

In biofuel news, Bunge’s CEO sees a future in renewable fuels despite a potential shift to electrification.

Finally, some good news for farmers and consumers everywhere: fertilizer prices continue to fall from the highs made earlier this year. Lower energy prices and slow demand are behind the weakness. Freight rates for bulk carriers are also falling – down 50 per cent from a year earlier.

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