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China amassing large stockpiles of food could impact U.S. prices

Posted at 2:03 PM, May 20, 2022

SALINA, Kan. — Joe Kejr knows wheat.

"Not a real big one. Sometimes, you can see those in Kansas up to 20," said Kejr.

He's been farming it for quite a while.

"I graduated high school in '77 and kind of been farming since. It's kind of hard to believe how many years that's been, " he said.

Quite a while. You could say he knows a little bit about farming, especially wheat. The recent issues with the supply chain can keep him up at night.

I asked him which supply chain issue is most worrisome to him right now.

"Well, that probably changes by the hour, actually," he said.

Supply chain issues have been wreaking havoc on the farming industry for months, if not longer.

"It might be hard to get some of the fertilizers or parts that we need or even a tire that goes out on our air seater. You don't know if you're going to be able to get it," said Kejr.

But there could be an even bigger cloud hanging over the global supply of wheat – and other foods.

"You have 19-20% of the world's population with three times the amount of food that they need," said Jack Buffington.

Buffington is a supply chain economics professor at the University of Denver, and he's talking about China.

From this year's crop, China is expected to have 60% of the world's rice reserves, 51% of wheat, and 69% of corn. That's a lot of food.

"The food market is a global market, and prices are based on global markets, and for us, it translates into higher prices,"

The UN food price tracker reached an all-time high of 159.7 in March and dropped to just 158.5 in April, 30% higher than it was this time last year. That resulted in 5% inflation on a loaf of bread in 2022 in the US.

That's tough for working Americans trying to put food on the table. It's tough for Joe too. He doesn't have a lot of say about the price of wheat.

"We farm so we can help feed the world. You know, we care about people," Kejr said.