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© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston 2020. We revisit the underlying economics of commodity storage and its relation to food security by first clarifying the standard model used to analyze the economic efficiency and distributional effects of commodity storage programs. We find that producers prefer stabilization, although their incomes are more variable, while consumers are indifferent. However, numerical simulations indicate that physical stocks will build up inexorably over a sustained period or the government will need to raise prices continuously over a prolonged period. For the least developed countries facing fluctuating world prices, government should guarantee the price received by producers because, with price uncertainty, farmers could experience losses even under a 'good' weather outcome; this would guarantee the producer price, benefitting farmers, while allowing the consumer price to vary with the world price benefits consumers as they prefer price instability. In some cases, however, the government may wish to impose a price ceiling so that households living at or near subsistence can afford to buy grain - an argument based on the grounds of food security. Numerical simulations indicate that such a mixed-price policy increases the wellbeing of both consumers and producers. Physical storage is not a necessity.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Journal of Agricultural and Food Industrial Organization