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G20 Summit

The first on farm matters - June 23 2011

Did the world stop speculators cashing in on the food crisis - and thus 'cure capitalism'?

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, at the helm of the G20, says the challenge is not only to combat hunger, but cure capitalism.

"By addressing the volatility of agricultural markets, in assuring food security for the world for today and tomorrow, we will rebalance the structure of capitalism," Sarkozy told the ministers on the eve of their first-ever talks”. More from Farmers Guardian 12

France has made limiting speculation and reining in markets a centrepiece of its G20 presidency and said it will accept no fudges on key issues. They want changes such as limits on the participation of purely financial actors in the agricultural commodity markets.

Countries such as the United States, Britain, Australia and Brazil however are concerned that such limits could 'crimp futures and derivatives market'. Apparently these ‘instruments’ are increasingly ‘vital to farmers and processors’. The World Bank is offering $4B  in such new ‘products’ . Now call me old fashoined, but surely the instrument vital to farmers is a 'tractor'.

Britain wants to maintain a ‘free world market’ with no constraints - like export bans (21 Countries with Food Export Bans) See Spelman talk at Farming Conference). The UK also wants food speculation to rule, as it more dependent on speculation in the Gherkin than investing in growing our own cucumbers. 'Government rejects crackdown on commodity speculation'.

It is a curious position for Brazil who have adopted their famous Zero Hunger campaign that put money in the pockets of small farmers to help develop their economies (More) that promotes Joe Hanlon's theory 'Just give money to the poor'.

Arguing for free markets is hypocritical on part of US, whose 2008 Farm Bill limited sugar imports and guaranteed their farmers high prices More

Question. Did the Summit 'Cure' Capitalism?

Answer: G20 Farm Ministers (Reuters) 'settled a deal to tackle high food prices, agreeing to a watered-down declaration that fell short of France's ambitious proposals to tighten regulation of commodity urged finance ministers of the G20 to improve rules and supervision of commodity markets. The deal appeared to lack, however, a commitment for a tough crackdown on speculators that French President Nicolas Sarkozy had campaigned for'. The deal also supported establishing an international agricultural market information system, or AMIS. More

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Copyright 2011 Environmental Practice at Work Publishing Co Ltd