The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report provides monthly comprehensive forecasts of supply and demand for major U.S. and global crops, supplied by the USDA. Crops covered include wheat, coarse grains, rice, and oilseeds. This report can explain past and current global commodities trends, as well as predict trends for the coming year.

Download the March report below. For more information regarding the WASDE reports, visit http://www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/wasde/

As the global population has become increasingly larger and more urbanized, and as incomes continue to rise, agricultural markets have changed drastically. The demand for high-value agricultural products and the emphasis placed on foreign trade means that poor rural farmers are often left out of the market. Smallholder farmers may not be able to compete with larger farmers who can provide consistent quantities of high-quality products.

The daily global news continues to be inundated with stories of rising food prices, and accompanying rises in poverty and hunger. Recent droughts in China have been added to the list of factors driving food prices, specifically commodity prices, up around the world. Policymakers are now faced with decisions regarding the appropriate response to these increases.

The Global Information and Early Warning System has released its Global Food Price Monitor for March 2011. Access the full report at http://www.fao.org/giews/english/gfpm/GFPM_03_2011.pdf

Global food prices increased for the eighth consecutive month in February, according to the FAO Food Price Index. With the exception of sugar, prices of all agricultural commodities continue to rise, bringing the Price Index to its highest level on record. In particular, the FAO expects a sharp decline in cereal stocks in 2011 due to increased global demand and decreased production. Export prices of major grains have risen 70 percent since February 2010.

To view the full report, visit http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/wfs-home/foodpricesindex/en/

The structure and behavior of agricultural input markets, such as fertilizer or seed markets, can have significant regional and global effects on agricultural development and, thus, food security. Prohibitively high costs and other constraints can limit the use of beneficial inputs and lead to decreased agricultural productivity, which can negatively impact farmers as well as consumers. On the other hand, input producers may benefit from higher prices.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), funded by USAID, has released its latest monthly price watch detailing staple food prices for February 2011. These reports provide food security updates for 25 countries vulnerable to food insecurity, focusing on impacts on livelihoods and markets. These updates can help policymakers recognize and mitigate potential threats to food security.

Download the latest reports below. For more information regarding FEWS NET, please visit www.fews.net.

The 2007-08 food crisis saw the international price of staple agricultural commodities (such as wheat, maize, soybeans, and rice) more than double; today the international price of many of these commodities is again on the rise. A common assumption is that as the international price of such commodities increases, the domestic consumer price of basic food items such as bread, flour, wheat, corn, tortillas, and rice will also increase. However, the degree of this transmission may vary from country to country and from commodity to commodity.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network has released a food security alert for East Africa, citing ongoing drought, uncertain rainfall predictions, and increasing international food prices. Rainfall totals were less than 30 percent of average in certain regions of Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya from October-December 2010. This severe water shortage led to a failure of January-February harvests in the region. FEWS NET predicts that as many as five million people in the area will have difficulty meeting basic food and water requirements in the coming months.

On February 18-19, a meeting of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors was held in Paris to address ongoing global financial and economic challenges. This initial meeting acknowledged that although the global economy has seen a certain level of recovery, there are still challenges and pitfalls to overcome in order to achieve the G20 mandate of improved economic growth and development.