Are High Wheat Prices Contributing to Mideast Turmoil?

Published on: 08:09AM May 20, 2011

The Thursday edition of the Wall Street Journal had a front page article on how the rapid increase in wheat prices is contributing to the turmoil in the Mideast.  Most of the Mideast countries consume a much higher percentage of wheat in their diet than any other countries in the world.  For example, Americans consume about 177 pounds of wheat on an annual basis.  People in Tunisia consume over 478 pounds and Algeria is just behind it at 464 pounds.

Most of this wheat consumption is heavily subsidised by each country's government, so when the price is high and they are unable to keep the subsidy in place, the people get restless.
Another interesting fact is that Egypt spends almost 7% of its total annual budget on wheat imports alone.  This percentage is what the USA spends on the whole Iraq and Afghanistan war on an annual basis.
Therefore, as American farmers we need to understand how it might be nice to have high wheat prices here, but it may cause other issues around the world.