USDA ERS take on current and past food price spikes

This is a really great analysis of the current and past food spikes.  Not something I can really summarize, so I encourage you to take a look at the full report.  It is definitely worth it.

http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/WRS1103/

Of course, the part that I’m always interested in:

Thus, while the expansion of biofuels was an important factor underlying the general rise of food commodity prices in 2002-06 and their movement to a higher plane, it is less clear how much additional impact biofuels had during the subsequent 2007-08 spike in prices, as evidenced by biofuels’ continued and
growing presence through both the upside and downside of the spike

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