Seldom has there been a week with a trio of events as significant for grain-based foods as occurred last week. Not only were these happenings forces of consequence for the industry, but each underscored the huge differences and also disagreements about how each may affect across-the-board well-being. If anything, the industry finds itself sorely challenged to do something in direct response to each.
Washington was the site of two of these momentous happenings. In the Capitol, the House voted not to approve the farm bill that had been crafted by the Republican leadership, creating chaos as to the future of an important law weighing on production of wheat and impacting retail demand through food stamps. At the Federal Reserve, Chairman Ben S. Bernanke affirmed the bank will start reducing later this year purchases of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities. Even though this was no surprise, share prices fell.
Having recently seen how disruptive a discovery of bioengineered wheat may be, the industry could only celebrate the announcement that the 2013 World Food Prize has gone to three scientists credited with doing research that made this wheat possible. The prize in turn prompted some exceptionally strong endorsements of bioengineered wheat and other crops by national leaders, while also rejuvenating intense criticism of this science. It appears that the heat of summer is being fired for grain-based foods by events like these three.