While agricultural trade policies are one factor affecting global food prices and price stability, they are not the only factor. Policies not directly related to trade can also have destabilizing effects if enacted by large countries and/or by a large number of small countries. Traditionally, focus has been put on agricultural policies and domestic support for developed countries’ farmers. Another strong example of this is the recent dramatic increase in pro-biofuels policies throughout both the developed and the developing world.

The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report provides monthly comprehensive forecasts of supply and demand for major U.S. and global crops, supplied by the USDA. Crops covered include wheat, coarse grains, rice, and oilseeds. This report can explain past and current global commodities trends, as well as predict trends for the coming year.

Download the full May report. For more information regarding the WASDE reports, visit http://www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/wasde/

The FAO Global Information and Early Warning System has released the latest Global Food Price Monitor, citing an increase in the FAO Cereal Price Index in April. Global prices of wheat and maize increased sharply last month, while global rice prices continued to decline.

Download the full report.

FEWS NET has released its monthly price watch for April 2011, citing increased maize prices in March.

Download the full report and annex

Just three years after the 2007-08 food crisis, the food security of poor people and vulnerable groups, especially women and children, is again threatened as the prices of basic food items increase rapidly and become more volatile. Expanding biofuel production, rising oil prices, U.S. dollar depreciation, export restrictions, and panic purchasing are again driving up food prices—to the particular detriment of the world’s poorest consumers, who spend some 50-70 percent of their incomes on food.

The Asian Development Bank released a report this week suggesting that rising world food prices could drive 64 million people into poverty in the region and reduce economic growth by as much as 1.5 percentage points. Surging oil prices, declining grain stocks, increased demand for biofuels, and production shortfalls due to negative climatic events have all combined to increase both domestic and international food prices. This rise in the cost of food presents a serious challenge to the region's economic recovery and growth.

2006-2008 saw dramatic increases in the price of many staple food items, particularly maize, rice, and wheat. These staple commodities form the bulk of the diet of the world’s poor populations, many of whom spend over one-half of their income on food. The result in many areas of the world was worsening poverty for already poor populations due to a decline in purchasing power. While much attention has been given to the economic impacts of the rise in food prices, little empirical research has been conducted to examine the nutritional impacts of the food crisis.

The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors met again on April 14-15 in Washington DC to discuss ongoing challenges to the global economic recovery. The meeting addressed the increasing pressure faced by global commodity prices, stressing the need for commodities markets to be subject to regulation and supervision.

Read the full communiqué.

The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report provides monthly comprehensive forecasts of supply and demand for major U.S. and global crops, supplied by the USDA. Crops covered include wheat, coarse grains, rice, and oilseeds. This report can explain past and current global commodities trends, as well as predict trends for the coming year.

Download the April report.

Global food prices saw a slight dip in March, falling 2.9 percent from their February peak, according to the latest FAO Food Price Index. Despite this decrease, food prices remain significantly higher than their March 2010 levels. Grain prices continued to experience extreme volatility.

Access the full report, as well as the latest GIEWS Global Food Price Monitor.