NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

World Grain Supplies Much More Than Adequate

December 11, 1995

With annual regularity, alarmists predict that the world is running out of food. But supplies of grain for human and food-animal consumption are at a comfortable margin and famine is nowhere on the horizon.

What has changed is that the United States and the European Union are getting out of the business of storing grain. This will lead to lower taxes and moderate food prices.

  • Feed grain stocks -- which can easily be shifted to food use -- are now up to 650 million tons, even though food aid requirements have never totaled more than 40 million tons in a year.
  • The world's better farms have tripled their crop yields in the past 30 years.
  • U.S. grain yields have been rising rapidly since the 1930s.
  • Corn yields have soared from 25 bushels per acre to the recent record of 130 bushels.
  • Scientists say corn yields can top 400 bushels -- thanks to more plants per acre, greater stress tolerances, more complete fertilizers and bred-in pesticides.

Africa does not have food security because it lacks good governments and adequate farm research.

The world's big crop shortfall has been in the former Soviet Union where people still can't afford meat and where feed grain sales have dropped.

Source: Dennis T. Avery (Hudson Institute), "Don't Worry, Eat and Be Happy," Wall Street Journal, December 11, 1995.


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