This blog post is not, repeat, NOT designed to make you afraid, or scare you into “prepping” if you’re not already there, or anything like that. Its intention is to simply present facts, and let you make up your own mind what you need to do to prepare for the shortages that are coming. In the USA, there will undoubtedly be shortages of some food groups, and much higher prices for others; but we’re fortunate to live in a country that is more likely than others to produce enough food to keep most people alive. In other parts of the world, that’s anything but the case. Genuine, worldwide famine is now being forecast by the United Nations and other authorities, and they’re not joking.
In the first place, understand that the vast majority of foods available to us are produced by corporate conglomerates who will produce what the market most wants. That’s how they make their money, after all. That means those products with limited customer demand will almost certainly be downplayed in favor of others that are more popular. Therefore, those with special dietary needs (e.g. gluten-free food, those who use specialized agricultural products such as A2 milk, those who follow paleo or carnivore diets with a heavy emphasis on eating meat) are likely to find harder times ahead than most of us will face, and much higher costs, too. Therefore, if you fall into such groups, you should be planning right now to build up your supplies of those ingredients/foods, so that you have a cushion if their supply becomes restricted.
Corporate “Big Ag” will also produce what their political masters tell them to produce. Note the World Economic Forum’s emphasis on eating insects rather than meat. There are already national campaigns to popularize insect protein at the expense of meat, and companies are getting behind it. What’s more, the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 calls for a 30% reduction in land used for agriculture (with an inevitable concomitant reduction in the amount of food produced). The Biden administration’s “30 by 30” conservation plan envisages something similar for US land use. This does not bode well for feeding the world’s population . . . unless the side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccines produce a significant rise in the death rate, as some are already observing and/or predicting. That’s a topic for an article on its own.
To give you an idea of this political and corporate pressure to produce what’s most in demand, rather than more specialized foods, and what’s “politically correct” rather than popular, here’s a chart provided by Dr. Robert Lufkin a couple of months ago, showing 11 companies that control 70% (i.e. more than two-thirds) of the processed foods we eat. Click the image for a larger view.
Much of the more specialized or limited-interest foods on the market are not produced by these conglomerates, but by more focused smaller companies that can cater to smaller markets. In the event of severe agricultural shortages, I would not expect such smaller companies to be able to continue, because their access to raw materials will be drastically curtailed.
Here’s another look at the “Big Ag” problem, this time from the relatively liberal, left-wing ETC Group. Notwithstanding their political orientation, they provide a valuable service in investigating the food industry (among others) and bringing to light important concentrations of power and influence. They call their list “Food Barons 2022“. The chart below comes from page 7 of their report.
Do please read the small print in the above image (clickit to biggit). The implications of such concentration are frightening. (For example, if BASF in Germany shuts down, as the company has already said may happen if natural gas supplies grow any tighter there, just look at how much of the market would be affected by that.) As always, forewarned is forearmed.
With that concentration of corporate power in mind, here’s a lengthy (almost half-an-hour) video from Meet My Neighbor Productions, which describes itself as “a grassroots movement to educate, inform, and help protect agricultural producers”. In other words, it’s concentrating on actual food producers – farmers, ranchers, and those who work on the production rather than the processing and consumption side of agriculture. They list many videos on their site, which are both entertaining and informative; if the subject interests you, I highly recommend going to their Web site and browsing the list of what’s available. Kudos to this husband-and-wife team for building up such an educational business.
In this video, Charlie Rankin describes what he’s observed on the ground, in farms across the nation, so far in 2022. It’s not a news aggregation from reporters in some big city – it’s what his own eyes have seen, and what he’s heard in person. He puts that together with news from other sources to describe what he expects to happen in the US agricultural sector over the next year or two. It’s not good news, but we need to hear it in order to know what to expect. I do highly recommend that you take the time to watch it, and consider your own food position while supplies are still relatively freely available.
Consider that Mr. Rankin is focusing on agriculture and ranching in the USA. As other countries run short of food (because the fertilizer shortage is worldwide, and without enough fertilizer, many countries won’t be able to produce enough food for their populations), they’re going to turn to the USA to buy what they need: and, if they offer enough money, our producers will export to them rather than supply the local market. (This is already happening in the natural gas market, for example: don’t think it won’t spread from there.)
That, in turn, will affect domestic prices. If a producer can get, say, $10 for a bushel of widgets by exporting them, but only $5 per bushel on the domestic market, guess where he’s going to sell his widgets? The government may try to control that by restricting exports, but in that case, the producer has little incentive to produce more. He’d rather save money by not investing in a less profitable market. Thus, overseas demand will affect US prices.
I hope this blog post has given you some idea of what lies ahead. It certainly motivates me to get ready for it as best I can.
Well,I thought we were on the right track and we are, but now realize we must prep deeper and harder. Have plenty of seeds but will buy more for neighbors.
I don't understand your overly optimistic view of the food situation here in the US. You don't seem to lack the requisite brain power and the facts are in front of you. The same point you make about fertilizer can be made about food. A great deal of the food produced here is already contractually obligated overseas, primarily to China who really has a huge food deficit to fill this year and the next.
Due to the droughts we still don't know exactly just how low the basic grain yields will be this year, but they will be much smaller than in the past. The droughts are affecting the barge traffic which hauls a large proportion of the shipped grain to where farmers are having to cobble up some kind of storage as the elevators are full. Piling the crops on the ground and putting a tarp over them isn't quality storage.
Food shortages cause high prices which will be out of the reach of many, we are seeing people unable to afford food in this country right now. It is not going to get better
At this point it is probably too late to urge people to prepare as anybody capable of listening has already got it and price and availability would make it too expensive anyway.
You could easily make that statement without being a dick.
Agreed. One could at least try to be civil in someone else's space. It's not hard, and it's free.
Thank you, Peter, for bringing this summary to the attention of those who require it.
Mike in Canada
What has me concerned is how much of our locally produced food will be sent overseas due to "political Considerations" by our political masters that are totally tone deaf to the concerns of the American people, remember especially after the expected bloodbath of the midterm, the donks and the assorted powers that be will be wanting to punish us "for being uppity and not knowing our place".
P.S. James..You were an ass in Peters House, sure what you said might be accurate to a degree, but you don't go defecate on Peters front porch. Peter is a gracious host, show him that consideration.
Great article. Thanks
One possible limit on exporting products (LNG, grains, food, etc) from the US is limited infrastructure to increse exports to meet world demand We currently do not have enough LNG export capacity to meet Europes' winter demands, regardless of prices there, and possibly tge same for fertilizers. There was a recent story about BNSF railroad (Buffett) refusing to ship the full output of a Texas fertilizer plant, and we still risk a railroad strike soon.
Diesel prices are high nationally because of our exports to Europe. Diesel demand in Europe is high because the oil they usually get from Eastern Europe and Russia is heavy, producing more diesel and less gasoline. Venezuelan crude and Canadian oil are also very heavy, with the Venezuelan stuff so heavy they usually import West Texas Light crude to get it to flow in their pipelines and refineries. They don't get that oil anymore.
The system we live in is extraordinarilly complex, and interdependent. Watch for things starting to break / cease to function. There may be a cascade failure after that. Previous .gov tests show that about 3 days after the food stamp cards fail, the riots start.
Prepare as you can, have your necessary info on paper, if it is not memorized.
Good Luck. John
On the bright side, and speaking purely for those of us in the midwest and perhaps our friends north, east and south, perhaps something will finally be done about the excess deer population. I remember in some neighborhoods I was looking at outside of San Antonio, hundreds of deer were moving through the neighborhood grazing on people's plants and we get the same thing here in Ohio. I recall my drive from Valley Forge back down to Philly International and I must have seen 30 deer that had been killed by passing trucks and cars on the freeway.
Fewer deer, fewer ticks, fewer accidents. Win win! 🙂
I came very close to hitting a deer sprinting across the freeway in front of me last night near Monroe, LA.
I was in Wally World and they had no wheat flour on the shelf. Googled is there a flour shortage and the articles came up; Yes, No, and No but there is less so prices will be higher.
TPTB are sending our resources overseas so everyone worldwide can share the same shortages and prices. There is still time to prep.
Don't see it that way and it was not my intention. So Peter if I offended you I apologize.
Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright.
James, you're doing the right thing. Folks like you give me a little hope.