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France to seek September grain talks if crisis looms

paris / reuters France will convene in the first half of September a rapid reaction forum of G20 countries if upcoming data on grain markets points to serious tensions following drought in the United States and Russia, a Farm Ministry official said July 30.

The French government announced July 28 it was ready to call an emergency meeting on grains in light of a surge in world prices driven by the worst drought in more than 50 years in the U.S. Midwest Crop Belt.

To judge the gravity of the situation, France is waiting for a U.S. government crop report on Aug. 10 and then a study from a G20 information body in late August or early September, the ministry official said.

“It’s too early to tell if we are heading towards a crisis or if the situation is going to turn out normally,” he said. “We have to be vigilant.”

A first-ever gathering of farm ministers from the Group of 20 countries last year set up a data-sharing system, known as AMIS, to improve transparency in agricultural markets, with the aim of tackling price volatility and ensuring food security.

The initiative aims to encourage major producing countries to avoid unilaterally imposing trade restrictions, moves that have been widely blamed for exacerbating market tensions during price spikes in 2007-08 and 2010.

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