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Food Speculation Coalition Letter to President Obama

March 2009

The Honorable Barack Obama President of the United States The White House Washington, D.C. 20500

March 24, 2009

Dear Mr. President:

In 2008, the price of basic food staples rose by incredible proportions. Between May 2007 and March 2008, hard red winter wheat rose 137 percent, from July 2007 to June 2008 corn prices rose 98 percent. Other food commodities rose in a similar fashion putting daily sustenance out of reach for 200 million more people in the developing world.

Families used to buying kilos of food were only able to buy cups of the same food items. People went hungry. Children stopped growing for months at a time, others perished. The steep price run-up was followed by a sudden slide in commodity prices. Currently, some food commodity prices have decreased to levels that have forced farmers in the developing world and the United States from their farms. The world’s food commodities’ markets have become dangerously and unacceptably volatile.

A significant part of last year’s price fluctuations were the result of excessive speculation in the commodities markets by the very hedge funds and investment banks that helped create the current economic meltdown. The surging prices were undeniably impacted by increasing demand for agrofuels and a lack of grain reserves. And the current global economic crisis has brought down overall demand leading to falling prices. Nonetheless, it is clear that excessive speculation in the U.S. commodity futures markets dramatically exacerbated the volatility of world food prices. It was more than simple supply and demand issues that led to the 2008 food crisis.

The deregulation of the commodities futures markets, beginning in the 1990s and culminating in the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, encouraged major investors to enter the futures market for the first time since before the Great Depression. These major investors of pension funds, hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds and others increased the massive price fluctuations that we witnessed in 2008. This could have been stopped with sensible rules that, if enforced, would have staved off the malnutrition and starvation that was caused by excessive gambling on food prices. Important reforms are needed now to prevent mega-investors from viewing the futures market like a casino where they can gamble on hunger.

It is because of this that the 76 undersigned U.S.-based groups and 108 international organizations from 29 countries, concerned about world food and energy prices, write to request that you work to rapidly re-regulate the food and energy commodities futures markets to remove excessive speculation that has so clearly increased price volatility in the last few years. By doing this, you will help to create a more stable and effective world commodities market. We cannot allow our basic food needs to be subject to the whims of investors.


Representative Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House

Representative John A. Boehner, House Minority Leader

Senator Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader

Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader

Representative Collin C. Peterson, Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture

Representative Frank D. Lucas, Ranking Member, House Committee on Agriculture

Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry

Senator Saxby Chambliss, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry

Representative Barney Frank, Chairman, House Committee on Financial Services

Representative Spencer Bachus, Ranking Member, House Committee on Financial Services

Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Chairman Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee

Senator Richard C. Shelby, Ranking Member Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee

For more information:

David Kane, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns: dkane[at]

Patrick Woodall, Food & Water Watch: pwoodall[at]


U.S. – based organizations (76)

1. Action Aid USA

2. Africa Faith and Justice Network

3. Agricultural Missions, Inc.

4. Alliance for Global Justice

5. American Jewish World Service

6. Bay Area Community Services

7. Benedictine Sisters of Mt. Angel, OR

8. BOLDJustice (Broward Organized Leaders Doing Justice)

9. Caney Fork Headwaters Association

10. Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph

11. Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good

12. Catholics United

13. Center of Concern

14. Claretian Missionaries

15. Columban Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office

16. Commission on Peace and Justice of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany

17. Community Food Security Coalition

18. Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM)

19. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres, Marquette, Michigan

20. Consumer Watchdog

21. Cumberland Countians for Peace & Justice

22. Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, UN-NGO office

23. Family Farm Defenders

24. Farmworker Association of Florida

25. Farmworkers Self-Help, Inc.

26. Food & Water Watch

27. Food First

28. Foreign Policy In Focus

29. Friends of ETC Group

30. Glenmary Commission on Justice

31. Global Citizen Center

32. Global Exchange

33. Grassroots International

34. Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council

35. Heartland Center/Office of Peace, Justice, and the Integrity of Creation for the Diocese of Gary, IN

36. Holy Cross International Justice Office

37. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

38. Institute for Policy Studies, Global Economy Project

39. Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility – ICCR

40. JustFaith Graduates Network of Miami

41. Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ

42. Laughery Valley Growers, Inc., IN

43. Leadership Council of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Monroe, MI

44. Liaison Rural Life Committee, Diocese of LaCrosse, WI

45. Maryknoll Affiliates

46. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

47. Medical Mission Sisters, Sector North America

48. Mennonite Central Committee US

49. National Catholic Rural Life Conference

50. National Family Farm Coalition

51. Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility, United Church of Christ

52. NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

53. New Rules for Global Finance Coalition

54. Nicaragua Network

55. Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance

56. Oakland Food Policy Council

57. Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Justice, Peace/Integrity of Creation Office

58. Office of Peace and Justice, Sisters of Charity of New York

59. Office of Peace, Justice and Creation Stewardship, Catholic Charities, Gallup, NM

60. Pax Christi USA

61. Public Citizen

62. Quixote Center

63. RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights

64. School of the Americas Watch

65. Sierra Interfaith Action For Peace

66. Sisters of Charity Federation

67. Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Justice and Peace Network

68. Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur of the Eastern Province

69. Sisters of St. Mary of Namur of the Western Province

70. Society of the Sacred Heart, NGO Office at the United Nations

71. The Congregation of Holy Cross

72. The Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project, Inc

73. The Second Chance Foundation

74. United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society

75. Washington Office on Latin America

76. World Hunger Year

International (108)

1. AceA Onlus, Associazione Consumi Etici e Stili di vita solidali (Ethical Consumer and Fair Lifestyles Association), Italy

2. AEFJN (Africa Europe Faith & Justice Network) – Belgium

3. Agribusiness Accountability Initiative, International

4. Alianza Mexicana por la Autodeterminacion de los Pueblos – AMAP (Mexican Alliance for the Auto determination of People), Mexico

5. Alianza Social Continental (Hemispheric Social Alliance)

6. Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA)

7. Asociación Latinoamericana de Micro, Pequeños y Medianos Empresarios – ALAMPyME (Latinamerican Association of Micro, Small and Medium Businesspeople), Mexico

8. Asociación Nacional de Empresas Comercializadoras de Productores del Campo – ANEC (National Association of Rural Producers), Mexico

9. Associacao em areas de assentamento no estado de Maranhao (Association of land settlements in Maranhao), Brazil

10. Bangladesh Krishok Federation, Bangladesh

11. Bharatiya Krishak Samaj, India

12. Bia’lii, Asesoría e Investigación, A.C., Mexico

13. Centre For Social Concern, Malawi

14. Centro de Estudios Urbano Regionales (Center of Regional Urban Studies), Bolivia

15. Centro de Promoción y Educación Profesional “Vasco de Quiroga,” A.C. (Professional Education and Promotion Center “Vasco de Quiroga”), Mexico

16. Centro Ecuménico Diego de Medellín (Diego de Medellin Ecumenical Center), Chile

17. Colectivo Ecologista de Jalisco – CEJ (Jalisco Ecological Collective), Mexico

18. Comboni Missionaries

19. Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, A.C. – CMDPDH,

(Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights), Mexico

20. Comité para la abolicion de la Deuda del Tercer Mundo (CADTM), France

21. Congregation of Holy Cross

22. Consumers’ Association, Kerala, India

23. Coordenador Nacional do Serviço Paz e Justiça – SERPAJ (National Coordinator for Peace and Justice Service), Brasil

24. Coordinadora Estatal de Productores de Cafe de Oaxaca (Oaxaca State Coordination of Coffee Producers), Mexico

25. Coordinadora Nacional Indígena y Campesina – CONIC (National Indigenous and Farmers’ Coordination), Guatemala

26. Daughters of the Sacred Heart, Malta

27. Earth Cluster of Franciscans International

28. Eastern and Southern Africa small scale Farmers Forum – ESAFF

29. Edmund Rice International, Switzerland

30. El Grupo Red de Economía Solidaria (Solidarity Economy Network Group), Peru

31. Equipo Pueblo (People Team), Mexico

32. Equity and Justice Working Group Bangladesh (EquityBD)

33. EQUIVITA Scientific Committee, Italy

34. Espacio DESC (Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Coalition), Mexico

35. ETC Group (Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration)

36. Faida Market Link, Tanzania

37. Federación de Cooperativas de la Reforma Agraria Región Central – FECORACEN

(Federation of Agrarian Reform Cooperatives, Central Region), El Salvador

38. FoodFirst Information and Action Network – FIAN International

39. Foro “Corriente de Opinión Ciudadana” (Citizen Opinion Forum), Argentina

40. Forum Solidaridad Perú (Peru Solidarity Forum)

41. Frente Civico de Mexico (Mexican Civic Front)

42. Frente Democrático Regional del Callao – Institución Autónoma (Regional Democratic Front  in Callao), Peru

43. Fundación Centro de Estudios Nacionales de Desarrollo Alternativo – CENDA (Center for National Studies on Alternative Development Foundation), Chile

44. Fundación Menonita Colombiana para el Desarrollo – MENCOLDES (Colombian Mennonite Foundation for Development), Colombia

45. Grupo de Estudios de America Latina – GEAL (Latin America Study Group), Argentina

46. Grupo de Solidaridad-Arenal – GRUDESA, Nicaragua

47. Heifer International

48. Informationsgruppe Lateinamerika – IGLA (Latin America Information Group), Austria

49. Instituto de Regeneración Ecológica (Ecological Regeneration Institute), Ecuador

50. Instituto para el Desarrollo Sostenible – INDES (Institute for Sustainable Development), Nicaragua

51. International Federation of Rural Adult Catholic Movements

52. International Movement of Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth – MIJARC, Belgium

53. JPIC Central Commission of the Mccj (Comboni Missionaries)

54. Jubilee Scotland

55. Jubilee South

56. Justice and Peace Group of the Missionaries of Africa in the Netherlands

57. Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office of the Order of Friars Minor, Rome, Italy

58. Korean Advanced Farmers’ Federation (KAFF)

59. La Asociación Coordinadora de Asociaciones y Comunidades para el Desarrollo Integral del Pueblo Maya Ch´orti´-COMUNDICH (Coordinating Association of Communities for the Integral Development of the Maya Ch’orti’ People), Guatemala

60. La Convención Nacional del Agro Peruano – CONVEAGRO (National Convention of Peruvian Agriculture), Peru

61. La Mesa de Coordinación Latinoamericana de Comercio Justo (Latinoamerica y el Caribe) – The Latin American Coordination for Just Trade

62. La Red Peruana de Comercio Justo y Consumo Ético (Peruvian Network for Fair Trade and Ethical Consuming), Peru

63. La Unión de Organziaciones de la Sierra Juárez, Oaxaca, S. C.- UNOSJO, S.C. (Union of Organizations of the Juarez Plateau), México

64. Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centre, Nigeria

65. Latin American Solidarity Centre, Ireland

66. Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres – MMM (Global March of Women), México

67. Missionaries of Africa, Rome, Italy

68. Movimento Campones Popular – MCP (Popular Peasants’ Movement), Brazil

69. Movimento dos Pequenos Agricultores – MPA (Small Farmers Movement), Brazil

70. Movimiento de Agricultura Orgánica Costarricense – MAOCO (Costa Rican Organic Agriculture Movement), Costa Rica

71. Movimiento de Saneamiento Político y Social – MSPS (Political and Social Cleaning Movement), Chile

72. Mujeres para el Diálogo A.C. (Women for Dialog), Mexico

73. National Labour Economic and Development Institute (NALEDI), South Africa

74. National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP)

75. Navdanya (Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology), India

76. NUCAFE – (National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises), The Coffee Farmers Organisation in Uganda

77. Núcleo de Estudos, Pesquisas e Projetos de Reforma Agrária – NERA (Nucleus for Studies, Research and Projects in Agrarian Reform), Brasil

78. Otros Mundos, AC (Other Worlds), México

79. Pax Romana

80. Pesticide Action Network North America

81. Platform earth, farmers, consumer – the Netherlands

82. Pólo Sindical dos/as Trabalhadores/as Rurais do Submédio São Francisco (Workers’ Center for Rural Workers), Brasil

83. Programa Chile Sustentable (Sustainable Chile Project)

84. Programas de Desarrollo para los Pueblos del Perú (Development Programs for the Peoples of Peru), Peru

85. Red Mexicana de Acción frente al Libre Comercio – RMALC (Mexican Action Network on Free Trade)

86. Red Nacional Género y Economía – REDGE (National Gender and Economy Network), Mexico

87. Rede Colombiana de Acción frente al Libre Comercio (Colombian Network of Action on Free Trade, Colombia

88. Rede Jubileu Sul Brasil (Jubilee South Network, Brazil), Brazil

89. Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos (Network for Social Justice and Human Rights), Brazil

90. Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural – U.S./Mexico

91. Salesian Missions

92. Servicio Internacional Cristiano de Solidaridad con los pueblos de América Latina (International Christian Service in Solidarity with the Peoples of Latin America

93. Servicio Paz y Justicia en America Latina – SERPAJ – AL (Justice and Peace Service in Latin America)

94. Servicios del Pueblo Mixe, A.C., Mexico

95. Siembra A.C., Mexico

96. Solidarité – France

97. Terra Nuova (New Earth), Italy

98. The International Presentation Association of the Sisters of the Presentation

99. Third World Network

100. Union de Comunidades Indigenas de la Zona Norte del Istmo – UCIZONI (Union of Indigenous Communities of the North Istmo Zone), Mexico

101. Union Paysanne (Peasant Union), Canada

102. Unión sindical de trabajadores de Guatemala – UNSITRAGUA (Guatemala Workers Union Federation), Guatemala

103. Veterinarios Sin Fronteras (Veterinarians Without Borders), Spain

104. Via Campesina Brasil

105. Via Campesina Centro America

106. VOICE, Bangladesh

107. War on Want, United Kingdom

108. World Development Movement, United Kingdom

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