A letter to me about Food Shortages from Robert Olsen…

We can see that financially we are in lean years and most agree that it will
take years to come out of this recession…but could we experience an actual
famine of food? I cannot say, although famines are currently happening all over the world, i.e.
recently there have been record breaking droughts in California, Texas, and the southeast USA,
Argentina and Australia, flooding in Indonesia, China, the Midwest and
Myanmar, fires all over the Western United States, locusts in Kazahkstan,
Australia and India, grain fungus in Africa and the Gulf Countries,
declining bees and increasing rats all over the world, bird flu, pig flu,
cow diseases, volcanic ash that has made some rich areas of the world
sterile, salmonella and other disease outbreaks in our produce and other
problems which effect our food supply such as food transportation, increased
prices for animal feed, fertilizers and seed, etc. China, the Gulf countries
and other wealthy countries are buying up prime farm land all over the
world. With high prices for fertilizer and seed and current low prices for
their farm produce, dwindling crop insurance availability, as well as
tightening credit by banks, many farmers may be struggling to come up with
the money to put in their crops come spring.

Even though we had an abundant harvest in 2007 in the US, over the past
few years the world has eaten more food than it has produced. The  world food
reserve became very low and the United States’ food reserve was completely
gone for a time. According to the USDA global food projections for 2008
there was only a 2.6 percent margin between production and consumption of
food last year. This means that the world food supply is very vulnerable
going forward. Also, in 2008 the last of the US government owned grain was
sold. The United States Government no longer has a supply of food  in case of

A friend in Northern Utah told me that he was recently called as the ward
employment specialist in his ward. When he was called there were two
chronically unemployed men in his ward, two weeks later there were 11
families without work. When I went visiting teaching a month or two ago a
brother shared that he had just been let go that day, his neighbor said that
his small construction company was letting go 11 workers the next day. They
also talked about the dwindling state of their 401K funds and how it  would
no longer sustain them for long.

Can the church feed us all? During the 1980 recession Bishop Victor L. Brown
told us, “Within the last twelve months, the distribution of fast offerings
and commodities by the bishops has been alarming. At the present rate of
demand, the Church resources will be almost expended in a short time…*It
would appear that in altogether too many cases the teachings about
preparedness have been either misunderstood or knowingly rejected*. Many of
our members appear to feel that when difficulty comes, the Church will come
to their aid, even when they could have prepared themselves had their
priorities been appropriate…*the welfare program rests on the basic
principle of personal and family preparedness, not on Church preparedness*.
We are concerned that because the Church program includes production
projects, canneries, bishops’ storehouses, Deseret Industries, and other
visible activities, *our people are mistakenly led to believe these things
replace the need for them to provide for themselves*. *This simply is not
so*…It is the opinion of many that more difficult times lie ahead. We are
deeply concerned about the welfare of our people and recognize the potential
privation and suffering that will exist if each person and family does not
accept the word of the Lord when he says, “Prepare every needful thing” (D&C
88:119) and “It must needs be done in mine own way” (D&C 104:16).” It is
silly to believe that the church can provide for all of us…in order to feed
the population of Utah survival rations for a year it could take close to a
billion pounds of grains/beans.

Calamities can happen to us all…even the saintliest of Latter Day Saints.
President Ezra Taft Benson told of his experiences with the righteous saints
in war torn Europe, “I shall never forget the Saints of Hamburg who appeared
on the verge of collapse from starvation, or their small children whom I
invited to come to the stand as we emptied our pockets of edibles. Most had
never seen these items before because of the wartime conditions…We saw the
terrible physical and social side effects of hunger and malnutrition…I
cannot forget the French Saints who, unable to obtain bread, used potato
peelings for the emblems of the sacrament…”

“*Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the
ravages of war, economic disaster, famine, and earthquake cannot happen
here. Those who believe this are either not acquainted with the revelations
of the Lord, or they do not believe them. Those who smugly think these
calamities will not happen, that they somehow will be set aside because of
the righteousness of the Saints, are deceived and will rue the day they
harbored such a delusion*.”

The First Presidency told us in, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”,
“By divine design, *fathers are responsible to provide the necessities of
life and protection for their families*.” Over the years we have been told
repeatedly that personal and family preparedness is the responsibility of
the members, not the church.

So what is expected of us? First is to gather a three-month supply of foods
that we normally eat. Then we should gather a longer-term supply. What is
meant by “longer-term” is left between us and the Lord. Brigham Young
encouraged the saints in his time to store seven years worth of provisions,
then it progressively declined over the decades to just one year of
provisions. This counsel stayed the same for over 70 years. I have read that
some Christian denominations plan on storing food to last the whole of the
seven years of tribulation. Most in our church would agree that that is
“overkill” but we need to be close enough to the spirit to discern how much
long-term storage the Lord would have us store for our families and others.

According to the food calculator on provident living an LDS family of 6
needs 300 pounds of grains and 60 pounds of beans and other legumes per
person to stay alive for one year…that means they would need 2,160 lbs. of

The church also recommends that, “You…add other items to your longer-term
storage such as sugar, nonfat dry milk, salt, baking soda, and cooking
oil…(and) foods containing Vitamin C and other essential nutrients.”

A year’s supply of food at the cannery costs $284 (for 12 “starter kits”…The
starter kit is a one month supply of food for one person. Each box contains:
2 cans wheat, 2 cans rice, 1 can oatmeal and 1 can of beans.) For a family
of six this year supply would have 72 cases and would cost $1,706 dollars.

A lot of people think if the government and church can’t feed their family
they can turn to their neighbors for food. This scenario is unlikely because
even if your neighbor has a year supply of food on hand, a meal’s ration of
food is less than a cup per meal. (2/5 C Beans, 2 cups grains per day.)
Since in many wards there are only a few families with such supplies it is
unlikely that they will be able to feed their extended family members and
their children…let alone their friends, ward members, neighbors, work
associates and all of the many other people that say to them, “*We know
where to come when things get bad*.” In other words, *if your neighbor
feeding you and your children is your plan, you need another plan!*

Many believe that it is pointless to store food since it would be gone so
quickly…to them it seems better to continue on and use their money to “eat,
drink and be merry” as much as they can, while they can. The reason I would
give for why we should prepare is probably different than what most others
would say. I believe we should prepare because the Lord has lovingly
commanded us to do so. Being obedient to the Lord may be more important than
we think. This commandment to prepare may be one of those irrevocable laws
upon which our future blessings are predicated. A few years ago, Elder
McMullin told us to, “*Be faithful. Unencumber your life. Lay up in store…As
we do our very best (he said), we can be confident that “the barrel of meal
shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail*.” We shall enjoy
greater wisdom, security, peace of mind, and personal well-being. *We shall
be prepared, and because we are prepared, we “shall not fear*.”” Those are
blessings worth preparing for!

Some people buy fire, flood, theft, disaster, electronic, appliance, home
warranty and car insurance every year. Food or as some people call it
“famine insurance” may be an important insurance to add to your list.
“Famine insurance” or food may not always be easily available. There is a
saying that goes something like this, “*I would rather prepare five years
too early, than five minutes too late*.” *It only takes hours to clean out
grocery store’s shelves when disasters are imminent*. Most of us do not live
near areas of many orchards, commercial gardens, milk farms, ranches with
many thousands of cattle or food crops. Many must travel miles to get to the
nearest grocery store. As communities we are very vulnerable if for any
reason our food supply was stopped for more than a few days. If you are
ready to start preparing it is important to make your cannery appointments
now, since at times last year it was very difficult to get an appointment at
most LDS canneries and in many areas at times there was little cannery food
available to can.

Our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson has said, “*Many more people could
ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had their
year’s supply of food…and were debt-free. Today we find that many have
followed this counsel in reverse: they have at least a year’s supply of debt
and are food-free*.”

Last night I went to our couple’s book club. One of the conversations was with a wheat farmer and a financial invester. It was very interesting. The wheat farmer was asked about the prices of wheat. He said that he usually sells his wheat starting at 3-4 dollars a bushel. He is selling at $11.75 a bushel. He said that the new contracts for this coming crop are starting at $10 a bushel. So he was asked if that meant that prices of wheat are coming down. He said no, that usually the wheat sells for couple dollars over the starting contract price. 
So why is the price of wheat so high? Well he said that THEY (I don’t know who they are) like to keep 160 days supply of wheat for the entire world. They only have 16 days supply!
I don’t think things are getting better. Anything that has to do with wheat, is going up. Pasta, flour, etc. If wheat is in shortage, then I would assume that other grains will feel the strain too. 
All Fall long, I’ve been hearing wheat farmers saying that grain is going up especially at the 1st of the year. 


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