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Reuters reports that analysts “are expecting U.S. farmers to plant second largest area of corn since World War Two and the third most acreage of soybeans ever,” and that “the bumper crops expected to be planted by U.S. farmers this spring could be the first big step toward alleviating global food price inflation.”

According to the story, “Soaring prices have been a crucial incentive for farmers to rush to sow more acres. Cotton futures rose to an all-time high this year and grains are hovering around their highest levels since the food crisis of 2008.

“Demand for corn to make ethanol has increased to record levels, the livestock sector's profitability has shot up while China's demand for soybeans remains insatiable and Beijing is believed to have resumed its import of corn from the United States.”

• The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Commerce Department says that “consumer spending rose 0.7% in February, the largest increase since October and the eighth straight month of gains, easing some worries about the economic recovery ... The pickup in spending came as personal income rose by 0.3% last month, though higher prices sapped the gains. The saving rate, meanwhile, slid to 5.8%.”

The story continues: “Despite rising commodity prices, inflation at the consumer level is tame. A gauge closely watched by the Federal Reserve rose in February but only slightly, the Commerce Department reported. The core price index for personal consumption expenditures, which excludes food and energy prices because of their volatility, increased 0.9% on a year-over-year basis, after climbing 0.8% in January. The overall index rose 1.6% from a year earlier largely due to gasoline prices.”

• The Wall Street Journal reports that discussions are underway for Starbucks to invest in a joint venture with India’s Tata Coffee Ltd. The two companies currently have a partnership for sourcing and roasting premium coffee beans, but the goal would be to open coffee shops in all of that nation’s major cities.

• Jim Harrison, president of the Vermont Grocers Association for almost a quarter-century, has received the Donald H. MacManus Association Executive Award from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI).

The award was presented at the industry’s Washington Public Policy Conference hosted by FMI, the National Grocers Association and Food Industry Association Executives (FIAE).
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