Huge story in the New York Times today about one of those apocalyptic subjects that I wish I could put out of my mind:
The rapid growth in farm output that defined the late 20th century has slowed to the point that it is failing to keep up with the demand for food, driven by population increases and rising affluence in once-poor countries.
Consumption of the four staples that supply most human calories — wheat, rice, corn and soybeans — has outstripped production for much of the past decade, drawing once-large stockpiles down to worrisome levels. The imbalance between supply and demand has resulted in two huge spikes in international grain prices since 2007, with some grains more than doubling in cost.
A bright spot in this grim picture, I guess, is the promise that dwindling supplies should mean higher prices for Arkansas farmers, right?
I can't help but note the coincidence of timing with a Democrat-Gazette story today that quotes Rep. Rick Crawford fighting for every dime of subsidy possible for Arkansas farmers — and the normally penurious Sen. John "Dr. No" Boozman seemingly throwing in with the farm welfare crowd — while Rep. Steve Womack is refusing to say how he voted in voice vote committee approval of a proposal to cut farm welfare.
If Womack runs for governor in 2014, I'll bet you potential opponent Rep. Mike Ross, for one, won't let him get away with trying to finesse his apparent support for slicing ag subsidies. See Ross' pitch-perfect Delta applause line: “Republican leadership has chosen to protect million-dollar subsidies for big oil corporations, while radically cutting subsidies for our farmers and farm families who work hard every day to make ends meet.”