Food trade resiliency welcomed

World agricultural trade and food security have fared far better than many feared at the beginning of the pandemic.

That “resiliency” needs to continue in order to keep the world’s farmers and hungry out of trouble, an Ohio State University economist told OSU’s Agricultural Policy and Outlook Conference.

“It’s really rather critical to keep global trade flows in major commodities open,” said Ian Sheldon.

“It’s important to keep those supply chains operational.”

Some countries imposed food export restrictions during the first few months of the pandemic, worried by the possibility of domestic food shortages.

Food aid agencies around the world became alarmed as some crucial sources of food for the world’s hungry were blocked and other trade flows disrupted.

That has led to an 82 percent increase in the number of food-insecure people in the world.

However, food trade suffered fewer disruptions than many feared, and most of the restrictions were lifted after a few months.

In fact, agricultural trade has increased this year with South America especially seeing increases in exports.

Sheldon said there appears to be less fearful stockpiling around the world. As well, the reassurance of world hunger agencies and officials that the world has sufficient quantities of food has alleviated the fears of shortages.

“There’s no reason why what is a health crisis turns into a global food security crisis,” said Sheldon.

“There does seem to be, globally, enough food stocks as we move through this pandemic.”

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