While progress has stalled in the House of Representatives in recent weeks, the pending new five-year US Farm Bill will have important implications for agriculture.

During the Second APEC Ministerial Meeting on Food Security in Kazan, Russia, APEC Ministers unanimously endorsed a comprehensive plan to address food security and development issues. The Kazan Declaration focuses on increasing agricultural productivity, facilitating trade and developing markets, enhancing food safety and quality, and improving vulnerable populations' access to safe food sources, and ensuring sustainable development.

Source: Deborah Brautigam

The seventh joint report of the UNCTAD-OECD on G20 countries' investment policies was released on May 29. This report is released every seven months and looks at recent policy measures taken by G20 countries to determine possible impacts they may have on the global investment and economic situation. The report was called for during the 2011 Cannes Summit as part of the G20 leaders' commitment to reduce protectionist policies.

For many poor rural farmers, getting their products to market is one of the most daunting obstacles they face. Markets in developing countries often have weak integration, characterized by a lack of communication and information-sharing; thus, while markets in one region may offer higher prices for a commodity, farmers in other regions have no way of learning about, and taking advantage of, these price differences.

In recent days, the price for soft wheat has increased, as has its volatility. This increase in volatility has likely stemmed from reports that cold weather in Europe may damage crops, a fear that may in fact have been overstated. Reports from Russia about a potential new levy on wheat exports starting in April 2012 may have also played a part in this week's increased volatility.

Asymmetry of information is a major obstacle to increasing global food security. Having access to reliable food price and market information is critical for policymakers, food policy experts, and researchers to be able to respond quickly to dynamic developments in the global food system.

Malawi's Ministry of Industry and Trade announced Wednesday the suspension of all exportation of maize and maize products, effective immediately. The government of Malawi has also nullified all licenses enabling grain traders to export the commodity. The move follows an estimate by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee that 10 out of 28 districts in the country are at risk of maize shortage between December 2011 and February 2012.

Global food security is constantly impacted by many issues at the local, national, regional, and international levels - politics, agricultural market changes, fuel prices, weather conditions, war, speculation and trading, and many more. Keeping track of all of these developing issues is an overwhelming, but crucial, task for policymakers to appropriately address the needs of the world's food insecure populations.

FAO GIEWS released today the November 2011 Final Food Outlook, a comprehensive analysis of the global agricultural market situation. According to the report, the outlook for the agricultural commodities markets remains difficult to predict; despite improved supply prospects and weakening demand for several important commodities, volatile prices and the uncertain global economic situation continue to play a part in high food prices.

In a long-awaited move, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission on October 18 approved limits on trading in the commodities markets. Specifically, the new rules limit the number of commodity contracts that any investor can hold in agriculture, energy, or metals contracts.