Chapter 4. Rain and Grain

Farmers say that “rain makes grain,” and it is hard to exaggerate the effect that weather has on food production and prices. The price of a loaf of bread in Boston or a bowl of rice in Beijing may depend on a complex set of economic forces that affect global food supply and demand, but it also depends critically on the weather.

Crop production falls and food prices rise when it does not rain the right amount, in the right place, at the right time. Drought in Kansas, a failed monsoon in India, or floods in Germany can all reduce crop production and drive up food prices. If unfavorable weather affects a small area, it may be devastating to local farmers but have little impact on global food markets. A widespread drought ...

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