Over the past two years, food prices have soared -- and plummeted. As crops are increasingly shifted to biofuel production, will food prices soar again? Will people starve as a result? What are the hidden relationships between the food on your plate and the gas in your car? Will economic recovery lead directly to massive price inflation in both food and energy? In this book, one of the world's leading experts untangles the complex global relationships between food, energy, and economics and helps readers come to their own conclusions about the future of food. Pat Westhoff reveals what really causes large swings in food prices and what is likely to cause them to rise and fall in the future. Westhoff discusses all the factors that drive changes in the cost of food: not just biofuel production, but also weather, income growth, exchange rates, energy prices, government policies, market speculation, and more. Next, he walks through several of the most likely scenarios for the future, offering insights that will be indispensable to consumers, commodity speculators, and policymakers alike.
Table of Contents
Introduction: What Goes Up 1 Chapter 1 Biofuel Boom 9 Chapter 2 Tell Me the Oil Price 35 Chapter 3 Policies Matter 55 Chapter 4 Rain and Grain 81 Chapter 5 Money in the Pocket, Food on the Plate 97 Chapter 6 Food Appreciation and Dollar Depreciation 115 Chapter 7 Speculating on Speculation 129 Chapter 8 Stuff Happens 143 Chapter 9 A Longer View 157 Appendix Food 101 181 Endnotes 215 Index 233
Patrick Westhoff grew up on a small dairy farm in Iowa, just a few miles from the "Field of Dreams." He earned an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Iowa and then spent two years in the Peace Corps in Guatemala, working with small-scale farmers. After getting a master's degree in Latin American studies from the University of Texas, he moved back to Iowa and earned a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Iowa State University in 1989. From 1992-1996, he served as an economist with the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. He worked on several major pieces of legislation, including the 1996 farm bill. Westhoff has spent most of his professional career studying agricultural markets and policies with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI), first at Iowa State University and now at the University of Missouri. FAPRI analysis is used by the U.S. Congress, the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and national institutions in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In November 2007, he was named a co-director of the FAPRI unit at the University of Missouri (MU). The author also teaches and advises graduate students in the MU Department of Agricultural Economics.