Over 30 ministers and deputy-ministers joined the meeting in Rome set up by the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) after grain prices shot to record highs this summer – the third price spike in four years – fuelled by drought in the United States, Russia and other key producers.
To contain such price swings, participants suggested boosting international coordination and data sharing in both the public and private sectors, and increasing transparency in the physical market and commodity futures trading.
“We need more transparency on the futures markets…we have to be clear about what transactions are going on,” German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner told the meeting.
“We need position limits to be applied with regards to financial investors on the futures markets and also more information with regard to the frequency of trades.”
French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll, who chaired the conference, reiterated France’s proposal for global strategic grains reserves, but the idea was opposed by the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations food agencies, David Lane.
Lane said that reserves were costly and would divert resources away from other measures to handle food price volatility, such as support for producers, safety nets for poor consumers and investments in food distribution.