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Worries About Rising Food Prices May Ease

From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report in Special English.

A United Nations report says world food prices stayed the same in August. And that is good news. A measure, or index, from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization showed that food prices rose six percent in July.

A summer of drought in the United States and Russia has reduced expectations for corn and wheat supplies. But one economist for the FAO says expected shortfalls did not get any worse in August.

The FAO price index remains below its highest level for 2012. Prices reached a peak in February. But they are still twice as high as they were 10 years ago.

Demand for food commodities like maize and wheat remains high. The U.N. predicts more cereal crops will be consumed this year than will be produced. That means markets will have to use some of the supplies that have been kept in reserve. And reserves remain low.

But some conditions are helping to control food prices this year. Experts point out that energy prices are lower now than in recent years. That means producing and transporting food is less costly. And one USAID official says this year's bad weather has not affected another important crop: rice. Rice is one of the world's most important cereal crops and prices for it have remained mostly even.

That could change if India stops exporting rice because of drought. Global trade in rice is described as thin: there are few major exporters. Still, many experts do not expect a repeat of the food crisis that began in 2007. Prices that year jumped, playing a part in civil unrest in many countries the following year. In 2008, India banned rice exports because of the shortage, and that deepened the food crisis. India is the world's second largest rice producer after China.