Thursday, October 04, 2018

US faces challenge in shifting food mountain

We all know that government policies often have unintended consequences. So it has proved in the United States with President Trump's trade war leading to a mountain of food that hunger charities are finding it hard to cope with.

The US administration intends to buy up $1.2bn of foodstuffs over the next year to help out farmers suffering from new tariffs on their produce in China and elsewhere. Sales of US soyabeans to China have been badly hit while pork, a staple product in many mid-western states, faces a 60 per cent tariff in China and 20 per cent in Mexico. Indeed, nearly half the purchases to be made will be of pork.

The purchases will increase by more than 50 per cent the amount that USDA purchases for donation. It is estimated that 40 million households in one of the richest countries in the world are 'food insecure'. However, the challenge is to find enough trucks and drivers to mood the before it spoils. Milk may be the biggest difficulty because of its short shelf life and one is often talking about distances between the producing and recipient areas.

With the average farm business earning 20 per cent less this year, if nothing else it shows the continuing political clout of farmers. There are mid-term elections coming up and although farmers are not numerous, the votes of them and their families can be crucial in tight Senate races, of which there are a number this year. Moreover, many farmers are bedrock Trump supporters.

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