September 17, 2012 / 10:23 PM / 7 years ago

World shows prudence as drought boosts food prices: USDA

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - World leaders have shown prudence in the face of rising food prices by avoiding harmful steps such as export embargoes, the United States said on Monday after France called an emergency meeting of G20 farm ministers.

Scorching drought in the United States, the world’s largest farm exporter, and in the wheat-exporting Black Sea region of Europe has driven commodity prices to record levels this summer. It was the third price surge since 2007. High prices pushed tens of millions of people into hunger in 2008.

“To date, global leaders have exercised prudence in policy-making and avoided actions such as export bans that escalated the situation in 2008,” said Joe Glauber, the U.S. official who will become chairman next month of a G20 clearinghouse on farm production and global food needs. “The United States is closely monitoring food markets and sharing data across the G20.”

The Group of 20 wealthiest nations created the Agricultural Market Information System in 2011 to provide a fuller picture of food production around the world. France, the current chair of AMIS, set for mid-October the first-ever meeting of the Rapid Response Forum, an AMIS body that allows G20 members to consult on food policy and warn against miscues.

France advocates steps such as strategic food stockpiles and a pause in growth of biofuels use to mitigate the impact of drought. A U.S. report last week said crop losses worldwide were not as severe as feared. The United States, which eliminated its long-term grain stockpiles in 1996, generally opposes large regional or global stockpiles to buffer prices.

Reporting By Charles Abbott; editing by Andrew Hay

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