Possibility of Food Shortage Growing Worse

Business, Featured

Empty shelves at a store | Image by Simone Hogan

A series of challenges is creating the “perfect storm,” wherein the world could be facing a massive food shortage.

The UN World Food Program head warned that the coming crisis would be worse than the food shortages seen during World War II. President Joe Biden echoed that same sentiment by stating that the imminent food shortages “are going to be real.”

Since the president’s address concerning the food shortages in March, circumstances have escalated, making the situation dire.

It is unknown the extent the effect China imposing extended lockdowns will have on the global economy.  According to ZeroHedge, “Analysts are ringing warning bells, but say investors aren’t properly assessing how serious the global economic fallout might be from these prolonged isolation orders.”

In early April, the Chinese government began enforcing strict lockdowns due to an uptick in COVID cases. Nearly 400 million people across forty-five Chinese cities are in full or partial lockdown, more than the population of the entire United States.

The restrictions will have an unfathomable effect on the production and exportation of Chinese goods. As China is the second-largest economy globally, the situation raises serious red flags.

Here in the United States, rising cases of bird flu have become a cause for concern about food production.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the outbreak; Idaho recently became the 27th state with confirmed bird flu cases in a commercial facility.

As the prices of eggs and chicken products continue to rise due to inflation, growing bird flu cases could increase the cost of these food staples.

At the same time, U.S. farmers are questioning whether they will be able to fertilize their crops for the spring growing season, further lending to concerns of an impending food shortage.

Fertilizer prices have skyrocketed in the past few months, but now a shipping debacle has caused more headaches for farmers; the Union Pacific Railroad has implemented “railroad-mandated shipping reductions.” As of this time, it is not known why the railroad has mandated these restrictions.

CF Industries, a leader in fertilizer production, was among the thirty companies affected by the railroad shipping reductions.

The fertilizer company released a statement saying that customers who receive their product through the Union Pacific Railroad could expect delays. The statement continued that, for the foreseeable future, CF Industries would not accept new customers that would need to receive products via the railroad.

Union Pacific’s railway transported CF fertilizer to key agricultural areas such as Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, and California.

Access to fertilizer is made more critical by the United States’ need for a good spring growing season, as the winter wheat season was disastrous.

According to Reuters, “The U.S. winter wheat crop has emerged from dormancy in miserable condition following a historically dry winter in key production states, almost guaranteeing that the harvest will not rank among the country’s better ones.”

China also experienced a fateful season for winter wheat.

PolitiFact reports that the Russia-Ukraine conflict will be yet another factor contributing to the global food shortage, as both nations are major wheat, barley, and sunflower seed oil exporters.

While war ravages their country, Ukrainians have been unable to plant and harvest wheat crops. Russia can grow and harvest, but it is unknown if its supply can be counted on with strict sanctions in place.

The United States does not receive substantial wheat, barley, or sunflower oil from Ukraine or Russia, so this supply shock may not affect the U.S. as significantly as other countries.

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