This has been a difficult food year for a slew of governments; back in April I wrote about the rise of retaliatory and preemptive food tariffs and restrictions in SoylentGreenShouldBePoliticians and now that a crisis seems to have been averted, we should take some time and figure out what we need to do when this happens again.
To begin from first premises: In the short term, I think food is a political problem; and in the long, a scientific one.When governments wage retaliatory tariff battles, everyone loses. We only have to look to the last tariff battle that marked the onset of the Great Depression to suggest that we don't want a series of tariff and other food encumbrances to usher in a Global Famine.
To avoid that, in the short term (waiting for science to catch up) food has
to be allowed to move without impediment, and people have to be able to
afford it. That suggests a two-layer solution,
1) each government has to fund a UN WFP-overseen food subsidy for the poor, so that funding is established and sent to the WFP so that the WFP can easily verify payment compliance. We then need
2) a global food bank that guarantees loans when a food subsidy program runs out of cash. Failure to comply with WFP audits kicks a government out of the food loan program and triggers a "WFP advertises that government X sucks" proviso.
High food prices drive production and innovation, albeit with some lag time. We have to make sure the WFP loans will not only have money behind them, but enough money to handle estimated shortfalls for one or two years.
To raise the probability of compliance, the WFP should require each nation's leader to annually publicize their *commitment* in joining the rest of the world (*social proof*). Ask the *popular* bands in each country to play a huge benefit show. Emphasize that the whole idea is that the WFP helps you and you *reciprocate* and help the WFP. That should make it more difficult for leaders to renege on the WFP (in addition to losing their money, the loans, and earning the opprobium of everyone else).
Clearly, this isn't happening; so what are the holes in this proposal? ;)