The International Grains Council on Jan. 19 issued a preliminary world wheat production forecast for 2012-13. The council forecast production in the year at 685 million tonnes which would be down 5 million tonnes from the forecast record outturn of 690 million tonnes in the current year. The recent five-year average world wheat outturn was 663 million tonnes.

The I.G.C. commented, “The world wheat area for the 2012 harvest is projected to expand 1.7% to 225 million hectares (ha), the largest since 1998. Most of the increase is expected in North America and the Commonwealth of Independent States (comprising nations formerly parts of the Soviet Union), boosted by attractive domestic and international prices.”

The I.G.C. said its initial forecast for 2012-13 was based on normal weather conditions for the rest of the growing season. “Aside from dryness in parts of the United States and Ukraine, the condition of winter wheat in the Northern Hemisphere is mostly reported to be good.”

The forecast also assumed an increase in spring wheat plantings in North America and a return to average yields compared with the record high world average seen in the current year.

Ambassador Cousin to lead W.F.P.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week con-firmed the appointment of Ambassador Ertharin Cousin as exec-utive director of the World Food Program. Ambassador Cousin, who currently is the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. food agencies in Rome – the W.F.P. and the Food and Agriculture Organization — will take office in April and will succeed Josette Sheeran, who has held the post for the past five years and has accepted a position with the World Economic Forum.

Ambassador Cousin has served in the U.S. mission in Rome since her appointment by President Barack Obama was confirmed by the Senate in August 2009. Previously, Ms. Cousin served as executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Feeding America (then known as America’s Second Harvest), the nation’s largest domestic hunger organization. She led that organization’s response to Hurricane Katrina, an effort that resulted in the distribution of more than 62 million lbs of food to storm victims.

Earlier in her career, Ms. Cousin was senior vice-president of Albertsons Foods and vice-president for government and community affairs for Jewel Food stores. While at Albertsons, she also served as president and chairwoman of the company’s corporate foundation, managing the organization’s philan-thropic activities.

Ms. Cousin served in the Clinton administration for four years and in 1997 received a White House appointment to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development.