The massive, 8.9-magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami that hit Japan last week destroyed a patch of the earth's crust 150 miles long and 50 miles across, according to reports from the Associated Press.
Several days after the event, millions of people are facing their fourth and fifth nights without water, food or heating.
It’s early in the process to determine how the disaster in Japan will truly affect American agriculture, says Scott Brown, Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) associate director.
In 2010, Japan was the U.S.’s fourth top trading partner, accounting for nearly 6% of U.S. total trade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Brown says with the high level of trade between the U.S. and Japan, one area that will definitely be affected is the ports. “My understanding is that many of the ag commodities we talk about tend to go in south of Tokyo. So, maybe we won’t have a big disruption.”
But, for the short term, Brown says, some ports are definitely closed. “We probably have product out there that’s going to have a hard time landing in Japan.”
Pat Westhoff, FAPRI-MU director, says with more information, we’ll have a very different view of the situation. “Need to learn more about what types of operations were hurt by the damage.”
“There is tons of uncertainty right now,” he says. “In the short run it will be negative for commodity markets.”
Looking long-term Brown says it’s going to take a huge influx of capital to rebuild the destruction that we see in the northern part of Japan.
“That income growth ought to be helpful to us. Potentially, we could see even more positive news in term of trade with Japan of ag products.”