Howard Schneider, writing last week in The Washington Post, said weather, population growth and other factors have placed pressure on food supplies and reserves worldwide, which usually means prices increases for consumers.
It also could mean higher profits for farmers and additional land under cultivation, Mississippi State University professor Keith Coble said in response to questions from the Daily Journal.
Coble, who recently attended an international conference on food supplies and markets, said dire predictions may be overstated, at least in the short term.
The more accurate assessment for Mississippi, he said, is that commodity prices for corn, soybeans, wheat, rice and other grains are quite high and demand is strong.
Farm exports are at record levels in the United States - $135 billion in the most recent cycle - and demand is rising in China and other nations where population growth outstrips production.
He said the fact that the increasingly prosperous Chinese are eating meat more regularly is one reason for rise in demand for grains used to feed livestock. He said, for example, that China is the world's largest producer of pigs.
Coble, a professor of agricultural economics, also said the use of corn as a fuel for ethanol production is leveling off because the return on biofuel investment is not as great as had been hoped.
Coble said Mississippi and other American farmers can respond to part of the increased demand by planting more acres, a development he expects this year in Mississippi for the most-demanded crops. He cautioned, however, that the best land already is in production and the highest yields should not be expected from reserve lands that are fallow.
As for food prices for consumers, Coble does not expect prices to rise at a greater rate than 2008, a recent year of above-average increases.
"The USDA forecast is for 3 to 4 percent food price increases, and that is not as sharp as in 2008." he said.
The impact of the international situation in the U.S., the Post reported, has been slight: Basic commodities like wheat are a small percentage of the cost of the bread , and the latest government numbers show that food prices rose 1.8 percent over the past year.
However, energy prices are putting pressure on producers, distributors and consumers, many reports indicate.
The crop projection revenue for 2010, the latest available, shows how increasing yields and prices positively affect our state.
Mississippi State Univesity economists reported a projected record $6.9 billion production value for the state's 2010 farm enterprises, up 19 percent from a not-good 2009 crop.
After adjusting for inflation of agricultural prices, it is 45 percent, or $1.55 billion, better than in the year 2000; the previous record of $6.4 billion was set in 2005, MSU reported.
Cotton acreage seems likely to continue rebounding because of record prices for the commodity, in worldwide demand for clothing and other consumer goods, Coble said.
Erick Larson, Extension grain crops specialist, reported of the 2010 corn crop that the market produced record prices per bushel averaging between $5.50 and $5.75, compared to $3.72 in 2009, and those prices have risen since the end of 2010.
No one should discount the value of agriculture in Mississippi or assume that conclusions about distant markets will have the same impact in Mississippi.