Weekly commodity wrap-up

Water wars brewing

As of today, the intensity and number of extreme wildfires are breaking records in our Northwest and British Columbia. Much of our country is the driest it has ever been. Water wars are likely to become more common as shortages become acute. California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington are all under emergency conditions, with Idaho also threatened. Nearly a million acres have burned, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Floods engulf Europe

As our western states suffered from drought this week, devastating floods wiped out entire villages in Europe. More than 100 people have drowned, and thousands more are stranded or missing.

Ironically, the European Union announced an “aggressive” plan Wednesday to cut greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels within ten years. However, climate scientists emphasized that efforts to reduce emissions must be much stronger if we wish to avoid climate change disasters. The E.U. proposal includes eliminating the sale of new gas and diesel-powered cars in the coming decade and a half. The commission estimates 160,000 new jobs could be created by 2030 in the “green construction” sector alone. Carbon taxes on traded goods also are on the table.

Brits ruminate on protein policy

In 2019, the U.K. commissioned a review of their food system. The National Food Strategy report is now out, and it recommends Brits reduce their meat consumption by 30% to “meet health, climate, and nature commitments.” The commission found poor diet contributes to 64,000 deaths per year in England and costs the economy $1 billion. Additional recommendations are to widen the eligibility for children in food-insecure circumstances and implement taxes on salt and sugar.

Inflation rate breaks record

Tuesday, the U.S. Labor Department reported the Consumer Price Index climbed by 5.4% on the fiscal year that ended on June 31. This was the largest gain since 2008, the year of the financial/economic crash. The index, which measures what consumers pay for goods and services, was led by increases for used cars. Many economists fear a jump in inflation is ahead.

Commodity futures prices, which often lead the CPI, reflect costs at the time and place crops and raw materials are produced. Toward the close of trade on Friday, corn for December delivery traded at $5.57 per bushel, November beans at $14.00, August cattle at $1.20 per pound, August gold at $1,813 per ounce, and August crude oil at $72.00 per barrel.

Opinions are solely the writer’s. Walt Breitinger is a commodity futures broker with Paragon Investments in Silver Lake, Kan.