Mar 28, 2022

Food Insecurity

Sometime last year I wrote an article about how we were facing a shortage of food. We had drought conditions in the US, China, and South America. Normally, things balance out by having a surplus of food production in some other area of the world. If we have a bad year in North America, the next year is likely to be normal or above average.

The one thing that has been saving the world from a global famine is the increase in the yield per acre. In the 1940s, the average farmers were only able to produce 40 bushels of corn per acre. Today, a farmer is able to get 144 bushels of corn from an acre of land.

In 2020 we had a massive derecho hit the state of Iowa. Millions of acres were damaged by the wild storm. The yield for the whole nation was still up because we had a record harvest per acre that year. Going forward, we cannot rely on higher yields because we simply have reached the limits of turning sunlight into grain.

We had about four years in a row where our luck was bad for food production. We are weeks away from the planting of the 2022 crop, and there are already indications that this year will see a shortfall in food production.

The condition of China’s winter wheat crop could be the “worst in history,” the agriculture minister said, raising concerns about grain supplies in the world’s biggest wheat consumer. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the country’s annual parliament meeting, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Tang Renjian said that rare heavy rainfall last year delayed the planting of about one-third of the normal wheat acreage.

A survey of the winter wheat crop taken before the start of winter found that the amount of first- and second-grade crop was down by more than 20 percentage points, Tang said.

“Not long ago, we went to the grassroots to do a survey, and many farming experts and technicians told us that crop conditions this year could be the worst in history,” he said. “This year’s grain production indeed faces huge difficulties.”

Argentina has long been one of the largest exporters of corn and soybeans. It has halted all exports of soy products. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted the global food supply chain as the prospect of dwindling stockpiles catapulted food prices to record highs.

According to a memo signed by Javier Preciado Patino, the secretary for agriculture markets, Argentina made moves last week to increase control over local farm goods by suspending soybean meal and oil for export. Following the news from Argentina, soy meal futures prices jumped more than 2.2%.

Since late February, Argentina has intervened in food markets with a subsidy for the domestic wheat industry similar to earlier policies for vegetable oils to mitigate soaring costs for consumers. The UN expects global food prices could increase another 8%-20% from here.

“The government typically puts a block on the export register, known as DJVE, before increasing taxes on shipments in order to stop farmers from preempting the hike with a flood of selling,” Bloomberg said, adding there’s speculation on commodity desks that Argentina will increase taxes on soy meal and oil to 33% from 31%.

Soy traders tell Reuters the sudden halt in Argentine supplies will steer importers toward the United States and Brazil for replacement supplies.

“Buyers have no choice but to reduce consumption or go to alternative sources for supplies,” said one Singapore-based trader. “We expect higher demand for U.S. meal. In Southeast Asia, buyers such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand were heavily reliant on the Argentine meal.”

Indonesia, the world’s largest exporter of cooking oil, will reduce exports of edible oils as a domestic shortage sparks panic hoarding among households, a sign of rising protectionism around the world as countries deal with record-high food prices. The nation of Ukraine is the largest exporter of sunflower oil. There will obviously be a shortfall of this product on the global market.

Russia is one of the largest exporters of fertilizer in the world. With Western sanctions blocking the movement of potash, ammonia, urea, and other soil nutrients, the yields of corn, soy, rice, and wheat are going to be hurt.

In agricultural powerhouse Brazil, some farmers are already applying less fertilizer to their crops, and some federal legislators are pushing to open protected indigenous lands for the mining of potash. In Zimbabwe and Kenya, small farmers are reverting to using manure to nourish their crops. In Canada, one canola farmer has already stockpiled fertilizer for the 2023 season in anticipation of even higher prices ahead.

Another blow to food production has been the spread of a highly pathogenic Bird Flu. Egg prices have soared as millions of chickens have been wiped out by the virus. Spread by migratory bird droppings, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is reporting cases in 30 states, totaling roughly 13 million birds that have had to be killed.

To find out why we are having so many problems with food production, we need to turn to Bible prophecy. Jesus said that calamitous events would be the warning sign of the last days. They would get worse over time, like birth pangs. This is what we are experiencing, so the rapture must be very near.

“As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. ‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ Jesus answered: ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains'” (Matthew 24:3-8, NIV).


Assessing Prospects for WW III

It was a time when the Cold War continued with fresh memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Filmmakers stimulated the theater-going public with offerings of dark humor steeped in fears of thermonuclear war.

The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming! was the title of a 1960s movie—a comedy—in which there was panic in a New England village on the Atlantic Coast. A Soviet submarine had run aground because of its commander sightseeing the American coastline. The crew was sent from the sub to find a boat that could dislodge the sub and free it to continue its cruise.

There was great angst for a time, as the New Englanders thought they were being invaded by the Russkis. The movie was hilarious, with the people and the sub occupants coming close to conflict. But there was a meeting of two young people—the woman an American, the man a Russian submariner.

I took a year or so of Russian in college, but viewing this movie was where I learned to say “I love you” in Russian.

The story ended just right, as any good love story should, with the Russian sub threatened for destruction by US Air Force fighter jets flying overhead, but the pilots, seeing the New Englanders all around the sub, didn’t attack. The people were protecting the Russians, and soon the sub slipped back into the Atlantic deep.

I can’t remember what happened to the two young folks who were in love, but I presume all, too, was well in that department.

At this moment, the Ukrainian people find nothing funny about their experience. Yet there is a love story within its unfolding that can be discerned. While reports that hundreds, even thousands, on both sides of Putin’s aggression are being killed or maimed, there are reports of human interaction that unveils compassion of biblical proportion.

The Ukrainian people have, it is said, taken wounded Russian soldiers into their homes or to facilities and cared for them, even as the Russian forces continue their assault. On the other side, there are reports of Russian troops laying down their weapons and returning to their homes, because they haven’t the heart to continue killing people who are basically the same as the people they left back home.

I don’t know the degree of veracity of these stories, but give some credence to them because they are being reported across the entire spectrum of news forums—mainstream and alternative.

One wonders the fate of the troops who defect in this manner. Vladimir Putin is reported to be, like one-time dictator Joseph Stalin, executing generals who fail to accomplish their missions. Thus the four or five generals are reported to have been killed, with their deaths blamed on Ukrainian resistance fighters. What is the truth? Who knows? Well, only our God.

The troops who have a change of heart surely are meeting fates at least as bad as the generals rumored to have felt Putin’s wrath.

And it is Putin’s unknowns that have pundits and ordinary people worrying alike. Will there be World War III? As a matter of fact, has World War III already begun—has Putin now set out on a course that will end up involving all of Europe and eventually the entire world in a global conflict? Is Putin another Hitler, whose trajectory the Russian dictator seems to be following?

Some within Bible prophecy circles are wondering the same things. Is the world now seeing the beginning of the earth’s third global conflict? Are we about to get into nuclear combat one on one with the Russkis, as Slim Pickens, who played the captain of a hydrogen bomb-armed B-52 in the movie Dr. Strangelove, once said?

One acknowledged “expert” weighed in with the following assessment.

Author and former DIA intelligence officer Rebekah Koffler told Fox News Digital Thursday that a no-fly zone presents the most risk among known scenarios, but currently-unknown actions could inadvertently cause an escalation during the “fog of war.”

“Usually the path of the escalation is difficult to predict, it can come out of nowhere in the fog of war,” Koffler said.

Koffler argued that the current conflict in Ukraine is a “proxy war” between the U.S. and Russia that could easily escalate into a “shooting war.” (“The largest risk to an escalation of the conflict would be a no-fly zone enforced by NATO, experts say,” by Michael Lee, Fox News)

Diplomatic sources believe some within the US and Europe are poking the Russian bear by embracing the idea of no-fly zones over Ukraine—and by the introduction of Mig-29 fighter jets to the Ukrainian military to enforce that no-fly zone.

Such action, they believe, would bring about the shoot-down of Russian planes. A no-fly zone, plus such US-approved introduction of weaponry, would, Vladimir Putin has said, be considered an act of war.

The Russian tyrant has instructed his forces to fire a hypersonic missile into a Ukrainian underground military facility. The missile wasn’t nuclear-tipped, but the plain message analysts are saying Putin wanted to send is that Russia can, with the new, Mach 5 missile technology, reach not only the near points of Ukrainian territory, but all of Europe. The hypersonic missiles have a vastly larger range than the mid-range missiles heretofore used by the Russians.

Putin has said he is not averse to using tactical nukes to accomplish the Russian military mission of subduing parts of that nation the dictator believes belong to Russia.

All of this has the world of diplomats and even Christian prophecy pundits wondering whether there is about to be World War III, which will end in nuclear exchanges that will completely disrupt the world carrying on as we have known.

Well, we can interject that, with the way things have been carried on as of late, a heavenly disruption might be warranted. We’ve seen wickedness arise at levels that, as Ruth Graham might have concluded, rival the evil of the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. Only God’s divine patience and mercy can explain why nuclear combat, one on one with the Russkis, hasn’t already broken out into WW III.

Diplomats of the world, many of whom are Christians and even Bible prophecy students, would adamantly disagree with my assessment about the prospects for World War III and nuclear annihilation.

I say without reservation that I have no fear of an all-out, global war at this juncture in human history. And that is the salient point—the words, “at this juncture in human history.”

For the current war waged upon Ukraine—or any other war—to explode or even gradually grow to all-out World War III would be contrary to what the Word of God foretells. As a matter of fact, Jesus Christ Himself, who is the very Word of God who holds together even the elements of the atom, foretold the following. (Again, remember that “the day when the Son of man is revealed” refers to the Rapture of the Church.)

Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. (Luke 17:27–30)

It would not be business as usual if the planet had just been ravished by nuclear devastation, just as it wouldn’t be business as usual if Christ was “revealed” at the end of the most horrific time imaginable—the end of the Tribulation.

There will be World War III, and there will be nuclear devastation, I have absolutely no doubt. But it will be after the Rapture, when all believers are in the only safe harbor there is—in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ when He calls us to Himself.

There is only one way to go to this assurance and safe harbor.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9–10)