The latest FAO Food Price Index was released today, citing an increase of 12 points from June. While the Index averaged 213 points in July, it remains well below the peak levels reached in February 2011.

As the drought in the US Midwest continues, stakeholders need access to up-to-the-minute information regarding weather patterns, crop conditions, and markets and prices. The USDA has released a comprehensive set of resources called Disaster and Drought Assistance to help stakeholders stay connected and informed about changing conditions.

FEWS NET has released its latest Monthly Price Watch, citing continuing rising prices for many staple commodities. US maize prices rose by 20% in July due to the ongoing drought in the Midwest; drop losses in both the US and South America have contributed to increased prices for soybeans and soybean oil as well. International wheat prices also increased in June and July due to expected shortfalls in the European Union, Russia, and Kazakhstan.

According to a new update released by GIEWS, the export prices of some major grains have jumped in the past month. Compared to June levels, the export price of maize increased by 20 percent in the first three weeks of July; the benchmark US yellow maize reached a record high of USD 322 per tonne.

The international price of wheat has also risen sharply in July, increasing by 21 percent in the first three weeks. Despite this drastic increase, wheat prices still remain far below the record high seen in March 2008.

Global maize markets are currently experiencing a period of excessive price volatility. This is the first such period since June 2011 and can be largely attributed to conditions in the Midwest United States, which is experiencing the worst drought in 56 years. The United States is the world's largest maize exporter.

The latest USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates has been released, citing sharply lowered US production and supply estimates for both corn and soybeans. The reduction in US supplies is expected to impact global supplies and trade as well.

Global soybean production is projected at 267.2 million tons, a decrease of 3.9 million tons that can be attributed largely to lower production in the United States. US soybean exports for 2012/13 have been reduced 115 million bushels to 1.37 billion.

FEWS NET has released its Food Price Watch for June, citing steadily increasing staple food prices in East Africa. Rising prices in the region are being caused by a combination of dwindling supplies from previous harvests and market interruptions due to conflict; many areas of the region were already seeing alarmingly high food prices.

The 2011 Horn of Africa food crisis brought the stark reality of weather-related shocks to the world’s attention, as the region’s worst drought in 60 years led to widespread crop failures and skyrocketing food prices and plunged millions of people into severe hunger and malnutrition. An early, effective response could have prevented the kind of widespread tragedy seen in the Horn of Africa in 2011, reducing mortality rates and malnutrition of young children, as well as helping families get back on their feet after the drought.

The FAO Food Price Index averaged 204 points in May, representing a 4 percent drop from April prices and the biggest percentage decrease since March 2010. At this level, the Food Price Index is 14 percent below its peak in February 2011.

FEWS NET has released the latest Monthly Price Watch for May 2012. The report cites slight fluctuations in the international grains markets, with wheat increasing in many markets and maize export prices continuing to decrease. In both East and West Africa, staple food prices (particularly cereals prices) increased in April. These increases were due to diminishing stocks from previous harvests (East Africa) and a rapid increase in demand that is still unmatched by supply (West Africa, particularly the Sahel).