Wheat stocks at 60-year low 

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Agriculture Secretary: 
'We have never been less secure' about wheat - Stocks at 60-year low


16 Apr 08 - Low global wheat stocks, coupled with the emergence of a virulent crop disease, are threatening the world's food supply, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Edward Schafer told food aid groups Wednesday.

"We have never been less secure about the near-term future of wheat," he said. "Global wheat stocks are at an unprecedented historic 30-year low, and U.S. wheat stocks are at unprecedented 60-year low." (And that are a lot more people on this planet than there were 60 years ago.)

Schafer told the International Food Aid Conference meeting here that against this background the highly virulent African stem rust is quickly spreading to places such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Yemen, India, Pakistan and now Iran.

Wheat stocks have dwindled in the wake of crop failures in some of the world's major growing regions, even as global population growth has created increasing demands for the commodity. Drought, floods and late freezes have all had an impact.

African stem rust, which is carried by spores on the wind, would be devastating to global food supplies if it affects the U.S. wheat crops.

"With over 75 percent of U.S. wheat acres planted to varieties that are highly susceptible to this disease, the threat here at home is real and it is urgent," he said.

Changing climate patterns that have spawned crop failures and growing competition from biofuels have come together to create what experts here are calling "a perfect storm" that has spawned a world hunger crisis.

It comes amid increased demand for food from a growing world population and export bans or restrictions imposed by several countries fearful of their own domestic food supplies.




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