Four key reasons come to mind for the recent price strength in wheat and rice prices.

First, the collective real or anticipated impacts of the Fed’s determination to manage deflation; second, global growth is showing signs of improvement; third, rapid emergence of global weather problems and future weather uncertainty; and fourth, speculative activity due to market uncertainty.

Wheat’s accelerated price advance from a recent June price low of $4.26 per bushel to wheat’s recent 85 percent price advance to $7.89 reached on Aug. 6 brings back memories of wheat price momentum during the 2007-08 period and the global food crisis.

Rice’s price movement has been less spectacular. Rice had a recent June price low of $9.60 per cwt. and a recent high on Aug. 5 of $11.30 per cwt. for an 18 percent price move. During this same period corn prices advanced 28 percent and soybeans prices were up 17 percent.

Is there a global shortage of food grains?

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service in its “Grain: World Markets and Trade” circular, makes several key points worth considering given the recent run-up in food grain prices. Bottom line: There is “no global shortage of food grains.”

On wheat I like the USDA’s following statement: “Expectations that wheat prices in the next few months will hit the record levels of 2007-08 levels are not substantiated by the reality of the global supply situation. Black Sea (Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan) wheat exports are expected to plummet 60 percent (21 million metric tons) on drought-reduced crops. However, traditional exporters, particularly the United States, are holding large supplies that are more than sufficient to compensate for the Black Sea shortfall. In fact, U.S. ending stocks at 26 million tons are three times larger than just a few years ago.”

On global rice production and consumption USDA’s following statement should be noted: “Rice production growth continues to outpace consumption. Record production is expected in major exporting countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, and the United States. Record crops are also expected in large erratic importers such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and Bangladesh. With the bulging government stocks that Thailand is planning to release and large stocks in India, we are looking at ample global rice supplies and stiff competition for export markets.”