Corn Instability

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The American midwest is suffering through its worst drought in more than half-a-century. That's bad news for corn-growers and even worse news for countries that depend on corn as a food staple. We find out why one food security researcher thinks this calls for a dramatic overhaul of the entire global food system.


Part Two of The Current

Corn Instability - Illinois Corn Farmer

For weeks now, the American midwest has felt like a vast, open-air oven ... thanks to record-breaking temperatures heading well into the 40s and the most widespread drought in the US in more than half-a-century.

The Corn Belt states have been devastated. Entire fields of shriveled, brown stalks are being ploughed under or baled for hay. Indiana's corn crops have basically been written off. Three quarters of Nebraska is in severe drought or worse. And 95 per cent of Illinois.

Jim Raben is just one of thousands of Illinois corn farmers who have seen their crops decimated by the heat and drought. He is currently standing in what's left of one of his corn fields in Gallatin County, Illinois.

Corn Instability - Corn Specialist, Ontario Government

American corn farmers aren't the only ones worried about the state of their fields. Farmers in Ontario are also coping with scorched crops after what some of them say is the driest season they've seen in 40 years.

We heard from Kevin Marriott, a farmer in Lambton County in southwestern Ontario and a representative of the Grain Farmers of Ontario.

The Ontario government is also concerned. Greg Stewart is a corn specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. He was in Guelph, Ontario.

Corn Instability - Research Chair in Global Human Security, U of Guelph

Unfortunately for farmers, it looks like things are going to get worse before they get better. Forecasters expect the heat and drought to persist into August. And commodity markets have taken note. Corn, along with soybeans, hit record high prices last week. And that price shock will be felt most acutely where corn is a food staple.

Evan Fraser says this calls for fundamental changes to the global food system. He's the Canada Research Chair in Global Human Security in the Department of Geography at the University of Guelph. He's also the author of Empires of Food: Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations.

This segment was produced by The Current's Chris Wodskou, Shannon Higgins and Josh Bloch.

Music

Artist: Sarah Harmer
Cd: Songs for Clem
Cut: # 8, Trouble in the Fields
Label: Cold Snap
Spine: CD 0855


Other segment from today's show:

50th Anniversary of Medicare Crisis - Documentary

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