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Record world food prices, U.S. inflation highest since 1981

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Legislative Watch: Grocery prices rise 10%; E15 this summer; ag trade nominees needed; Cattle Contract Library listening; first farm bill hearing.

World food prices have reached record levels according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Food prices increased by nearly 34% over the past year and 12.6% from February to March this year.  According to the FAO, the latest increase set records for vegetable oils, cereal and meat. 

The FAO Food Price Index measures the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities.

At the same time, the U.S. is experiencing the highest inflation rate in 40 years. The Department of Labor reported this week that inflation increased by 8.5% over the past year. Major reasons for the increase were higher costs for energy, food, housing, strong consumer demand and impact of the war in Ukraine. 

Over the past year, gasoline prices have increased 48%, natural gas at 21.6% and used cars at 35%. Grocery prices have risen 10 percent over the past 12 months which is the largest increase in 31 years. 

Biden allows E15 sales this summer
In an effort to lower gasoline prices and battle inflation, President Joe Biden announced that the administration would be lifting the summertime ban on sales of E15. The EPA will issue a national emergency waiver that will allow for the sale of E15 from June 1-Sept. 15. 

Biden in making the announcement at an ethanol plant in Iowa said, "It reduces our reliance on foreign oil. By adding this fuel to our gasoline 10% or 15%, even more — it stretches the supply. It gives you a choice at the pump. When you have a choice, you have competition; when you have competition, you have better prices."

The administration says this should save consumers an average of 10 cents per gallon. E15 is currently sold in 30 states at 2,300 gasoline stations out of the estimated 150,000 stations in the United States.  

A 2021 court decision to end full-market access to E15 was set to take effect this summer.

Ag trade nominees needed
Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee; John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee; and Mike Crapo (R-ID), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee are urging President Joe Biden to quickly nominate a Chief Agriculture Negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and an Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Ag Affairs at USDA.

The Senators in a letter to Biden said, "Global agricultural markets are highly competitive. Every day, new trade barriers against American agricultural products are being devised to limit our access. We need strong advocates who understand the needs of American farmers, ranchers and foresters, and who will represent their best interests on the world stage. We continue to meet with parties interested in establishing new trading relationships with U.S. agriculture and the potential for improved and expanded market access is already present."

Cattle Contract Library listening session
The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service will hold a listening session on April 21 regarding the Cattle Contracts Library Pilot Program. The session is to allow stakeholders to share their suggestions and identify expectations for the program.

AMS is interested in the following:

  • What information should a Cattle Contracts Library include to be most helpful to cattle marketers?
  • What concerns do you have with USDA releasing a Cattle Contracts Library?
  • What format should be used to present the information contained in a Cattle Contracts Library?

Stakeholders can participate virtually or in person at the USDA National Grain Center, 1083 North Ambassador Dr., Kansas City, Missouri.

The Cattle Contract Library Pilot Program was established by the recently passed Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022. 

Senate to hold first farm bill hearing
The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold its first farm bill hearing on April 29 at Michigan State University. The hearing is entitled, "Growing Jobs and Economic Opportunity: 2023 Farm Bill Perspectives."  

Source: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. The opinions of this writer are not necessarily those of Farm Progress/Informa.

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