The Cornhusker State

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As its name suggests, agriculture is a critical component of the economy of the US state of Nebraska. According to a study by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, it accounts for nearly 34% of business sales, 22% of the gross state product and nearly a quarter of the state’s jobs. In a recent report the university…   Read more

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Using market forces is not disrupting them

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Our plan for managing buffer stocks sees them as being a price stabilisation measure. Price volatility is reduced by releasing grain when prices are too high in order to boost supply, and then buying it to replenish stocks when prices are too low. There can be some argument over the acceptable price range within which…   Read more

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Woolly thinking

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When trying to stabilise farm and food prices, it is important to get the price band right. It should not be too high or too low, too narrow or too wide. We have argued consistently that a system of buffer stocks, replenished when prices are low and released when prices are high, can help to…   Read more

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The myth of crowding out

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Anyone who knows the rules for priority seats on a bus is aware of the argument that by taking a seat you deny one to someone else. It is not therefore surprising that one of the arguments against buffer stocks organised by a government is that they ‘crowd out’ private stocks. Do they? There is…   Read more

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How the World Bank misquoted ActionAid on buffer stocks

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ActionAid was founded as an international NGO in 1972, working to reduce poverty and promote human rights. Its headquarters are in Johannesburg, South Africa and under one of its main areas of concern, ‘land and climate’, it has produced a number of reports related to food security. After severe food shortages at the end of…   Read more

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Slovenia’s grain reserves

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Though many people understand how buffer stocks can reduce price volatility, they sometimes worry about how even a good system might be manipulated by interest groups. It’s all very well, they say, to release reserves when prices are high and replenish them when they are low, but who is to define ‘high’ and ‘low’? The…   Read more

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Buffer stocks are globally responsible

When people talk about food buffer stocks, they tend to think about them in the context of a single country. The idea is to have more stable prices by releasing grain (or another food commodity) onto the market when prices are high and replenishing the buffer stock by buying grain when prices are low. This…   Read more

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The IMF does not understand buffer stocks

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Last year a team of ‘IMF experts’ published a report intended to help member countries deal with the economic effects of COVID-19. One of the reports, published on June 29th, concerned ‘food markets during COVID-19’ and came out against using food buffer stocks to stabilize prices. It claimed that they ‘carry a large fiscal cost…   Read more

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Malawi’s food reserve and the IMF

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  Nearly two decades ago, in 2002, several newspapers reported that the IMF had recommended the sale of Malawi’s strategic grain reserve just before the country suffered a catastrophic crop failure during which people died from starvationAccording to The Guardian the IMF representative in Malawi, Girma Begashaw, insisted that no such recommendation had been given.…   Read more

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The UN and food reserves

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In July 2020 the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Michael Fakhri, presented a report to the UN General Assembly in line with a resolution on the Right to Food passed by the UN in 2018. The resolution was looking forward to achieving food security and sustainable agriculture by 2030. However, as with all…   Read more

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