Hurricane Katrina's silver lining? (7/9/2005)

Seems nature's shoved a bung up America's point of discharge for its tainted feed supply.

Mind you, Bush & co'll doubtless give sorting this out a bit more priority than rescuing poor blacks off roof tops.

1.Hurricane Katrina's silver lining?
2.Various snips on Hurricane Katrina's potential impact on the agricultural economy

1.Eco sounding
John Vidal
The Guardian, September 7, 2005

Silver lining

Whatever Hurricane Katrina's long-term effect on the way America thinks about global warming and oil dependency, it is probably going to make GM animal feed more expensive in Europe. Almost all US maize and soya goes through New Orleans and the port of Destrehan, and nothing is expected out for some time because of silting in the Mississippi. This should cheer up anti-GM activists in Britain who have been trying to persuade supermarkets to stick with non-GM supplies and not to accept produce that has been given GM feed.

2.Various snips on Hurricane Katrina's potential impact on the agricultural economy

Scott Kilman in the Wall Street Journal:

"While the hurricane's wind and rain caused relatively little damage to the nation's biggest crops, it has shut down grain-exporting ports around New Orleans for an indefinite period, depressing prices that Midwest farmers are fetching for corn, wheat and soybeans.

"Grain elevators have slashed the prices they are paying farmers for crops by as much as 15 cents a bushel -- or roughly 4% -- since Monday in large part to compensate for their soaring cost of booking space on river barges. The closing of the New Orleans ports, which normally handle about half the crops exported from the U.S., has stranded thousands of loaded barges on the Mississippi River with no place to dump their cargo."

"Even before Katrina stormed ashore, the combination of slumping cattle prices and a Midwest drought this summer slowed sales of big-ticket items such as tractors. USDA economists said Wednesday they expect net farm income to drop 13% in 2005 to $71.8 billion

"That profit forecast doesn't include the effect of Katrina."

Neil Irwin writing in the Washington Post
reported that, "Katrina's economic effects may be more lasting than those that usually follow big storms, economists and businesspeople said yesterday, owing to the severity of the damage and the unique geography of the New Orleans region. The storm hit a chokepoint in the U.S. economy -- a concentration of ports, rail lines, barge traffic and major highways making up one of the nation's major trade hubs.

"New Orleans is underwater, and its future is uncertain -- as is that of the $49 billion in goods, 60 percent of U.S. grain exports, and 26 percent of the nation's natural gas supply and crude oil that flow through nearby ports each year.

"'The Mississippi River is the aorta of the American economy, and New Orleans is the access point to it,' said Al DeLattre, a supply-chain specialist with consulting firm Accenture Ltd.

The Post also notes, "Exporters of U.S. goods, especially farmers in the Midwest, may have the most to lose if New Orleans area ports are out of service for a prolonged period. The harvest is just beginning -- the time when grain and other major commodities for export are carried by barge down the Mississippi River, then deposited in cargo ships to be carried overseas."

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