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Global food prices fall for fifth year in a row but economic

According to a press release released today by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), bumper harvests – or harvests that have been remarkably plentiful – as well as promising prospects for staple cereals, helped to offset pressure on tropical commodities like sugar and palm oil, whose production was adversely impacted by El Niño. The FAO’s Food Price Index measures the monthly change in international prices for five major food commodity groups: major cereals, vegetable oils, dairy, meat, and sugar. The 2016 average was 161.6 points.Throughout 2016, cereal prices declined steadily – down 39 per cent from their 2011 peak. Meanwhile, sugar rose by 34.2 per cent and vegetable oil prices saw an 11.4 per cent increase. According to Abdolreza Abbassian, an FAO senior economist, “economic uncertainties, including movements in exchange rates, are likely to influence food markets even more so this year.” FAO reported that vegetable oil prices rose by 4.2 per cent from November, in part due to low global inventory levels and tight supplies for palm oil and in the case of soy oil, due to the rising use of biodiesels in North and South America. Higher prices for butter, cheese, and whole milk powder due to restraints in the European Union and Oceania drove dairy prices up by 3.3 per cent. Both sugar and meat indexes fell, the former due to a weakening Brazilian currency and the latter because of lower costs in bovine and poultry meats. The Index was introduced in 1996 in order to help the public monitor global agricultural commodity markets. It gained prominence as an indicator of potential food security concerns for developing countries following significant price hikes in 2008.Since then, with brief exceptions, agricultural commodity prices have remained relatively high. Further information about the index, including how it is calculated and updated, is available online. read more

Ohio State womens volleyball set to battle No 2 Nittany Lions

Freshman middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe (10) and senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary (11) attempt to block a hit during a match against Michigan Sept. 27 at St. John Arena. OSU won, 3-1.Credit: Mark Batke / Lantern photographerAfter its ranking took another hit, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team faces a road test against a highly ranked opponent.The No. 24 Buckeyes (14-6, 2-6), who were ranked as high as No. 12 earlier this season in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 Poll, are scheduled to travel to State College, Pa., for a match against No. 2 Penn State (16-2, 7-1).OSU is coming off a four-set loss at Illinois, but coach Geoff Carlston said the Buckeyes can take some positives out of the loss as they prepare for the Nittany Lions.“We played a lot better, we did a lot of good things,” Carlston said. “We just have to keep improving.”Junior setter Taylor Sherwin said the team needs to stay together as a group and keep working hard every day in practice.“We just (need to) keep working on the things that we need to on offense and defense and keep saying focused as a team,” she said.Freshman defensive specialist Valeria León said it will take hard work and a strong performance to beat the Nittany Lions, but that it will be important to relax.“It will be a great game,” León said. “We have to have fun and stay together and compete.”Penn State, which advanced to the semifinals of the 2012 Division I Women’s Volleyball Tournament, has been one of the more successful teams women’s volleyball teams in recent years. That success includes four-straight national championships from 2007-10.The Nittany Lions’ strong reputation has stuck with them ever since.“In a way, they just kind of have that Penn State swag about them because they have been so good these past few years,” senior outside hitter Kaitlyn Leary said.Carlston gave credit to the Penn State coaching staff for the team’s continued success.“They’re the most athletic team in the country,” he said. “(Penn State coach Russ Rose) has done a great job of recruiting ridiculous talent.”OSU is searching for a change in momentum in Big Ten play, and freshman middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe said it would be huge to end the team’s conference struggles against the second ranked team in the nation.“I’m really excited because it’s Penn State, you always hear that it’s the best team ever,” Sandbothe said. “I think the best part is (that) nobody expects we can do it (win). That’s even more motivation.”The match at Penn State will end a three game road trip for the Buckeyes. Action is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The team is then slated to return home to St. John Arena to host No. 13 Nebraska at 7 p.m Friday. read more

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