More protection against low prices, while fixed payments ended
decade-long shift to subsidized crop insurance reinforced
By David Orden, IFPRI
After more than three years of oft-times tumultuous positioning, posturing, and negotiations, the U.S. Congress has passed a new five-year Farm Bill: the Agricultural Act of 2014. The bill, which the President will sign into law on February 7, reaffirms the government’s longstanding support to farmers through 2018.
The latest FEWS Net Monthly Price Watch was released this week, citing stable international maize, rice, and wheat prices in December. Maize prices were over 30 percent lower than their December 2012 levels; global maize stocks are expected to hit their highest levels in over a decade due to near-harvest records in the United States, high stocks in South America, and decreasing overall use estimates.
Use, control, and ownership of productive assets – land, money, livestock, and education, to name just a few – are essential stepping stones on the path out of poverty. But this pathway can look very different depending on whether you are a man or a woman. Growing evidence suggests that women typically have fewer assets than men, and that they use those assets differently. What’s more, agricultural development programs may impact men’s and women’s assets in different, sometimes unexpected, ways.
The latest FAO Food Price Index, released this week, remained largely unchanged from last month's at 206.7 points. Overall, the Index was slightly lower in 2013 than in 2012; food prices declined 1.6 percent in the past year. However, 2013 levels were still the third highest annual value on record.
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Fertilizer use in India has exploded since the government began a subsidization program in the 1970s. National fertilizer consumption rates increased by 50% during the 1990s. But research has shown that the effectiveness of these inputs has actually declined – on average, 8 kilograms of grain were produced per kilogram of fertilizer in the late 1990s, compared to 25 kg of grain per kg of fertilizer in the 1960s.
The “food vs. fuel” debate came no closer to a resolution last week, as Energy ministers from the European Union’s 28 member states failed to agree on a compromise limiting the use of transport fuels made from food crops such as rapeseed and wheat, so-called first generation biofuels.
If you learned that a $1 investment in your child’s nutritional intake during infancy would ultimately net an $18 return, would you make the investment? Yes, if you had the means, it’s likely you would. It’s a win-win: healthier child, healthier bank account.