France's Hollande pushes for strategic food stocks

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 11, 2012 2:22 PM
France's Hollande pushes for strategic food stocks

RENNES, France (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday proposed the creation of strategic stockpiles of agricultural commodities to prevent extreme price swings on international markets.

Drought in the U.S. Midwest and the Black Sea regions have sent grain prices to record highs this summer and raised concerns of a repeat of 2008 when a spike in food prices triggered riots in some countries.

"I propose to implement market management and crisis management policies by setting up strategic stocks," Hollande said in a speech to farmers in Rennes, noting that he was already discussing the issue with heads of state and government.

"I am convinced of the benefits of global governance for subjects as crucial as food security," he said.

The United Nations' food agencies urged world leaders last week to take swift, coordinated action to ensure that food price shocks do not turn into a catastrophe that could hurt tens of millions of people in coming months.

France said that if the crisis worsened it might convene an emergency meeting of top G20 officials to approve joint action, but it stressed that it would wait for a U.S. government report on grains supply and demand due on Wednesday before taking any decision.

(Reporting By Julien Ponthus; writing by Sybille de La Hamaide; editing by Catherine Bremer and Jim Marshall)