While trend experts, economists and investment gurus have been predicting food shortages for some time, new evidence indicates the U.S. Department of Agriculture may be covering up the greatest food shortage in modern history.

Beginning in 2009, global agricultural markets faced a supply and demand imbalance, caused by a substantial drop in output resulting from the financial crisis and extreme weather around the world.

At the same time, growing economies in Asia have begun consuming record amounts of raw goods, particularly food staples as consumers move to higher protein, higher calorie diets. When supplies are reduced and demand is constant or growing, prices normally rise. Industry observers and economists remained mystified by the low agricultural prices in spite of this trend.

One analyst, Eric deCarbonnel from MarketSkeptics.com believes the answer is found in data he believes the U.S. Department of Agriculture has manipulated to keep food prices low.

“Instead of adjusting production estimates down to reflect decreased production, [the USDA] adjusted estimates upwards to match increasing demand from China. In this way, the USDA has brought supply and demand back into balance (on paper) and temporarily delayed a rise in food prices by ensuring a catastrophe in 2010,” he said.

DeCarbonnel points out that across the Midwest United States, many counties already have been declared federal disaster areas, which is defined by a decrease in crop production of at least one type by 30 percent or more. Hundreds of other counties across the country have experienced crop failures of 10-20 percent, not enough to qualify as federal disaster areas but still contributing to the overall poor harvest.

In some states, including Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama, the majority of counties have been declared disaster areas, and yet the USDA is predicting record harvests.

DeCarbonnel’s conclusion is that the government is intentionally covering up the nature of the food shortage because if the public realized the true extent of the crisis and/or prices rose dramatically, economies could collapse and governments could fall.

He’s not alone in his claims, as researchers around the world are now publishing similar accusations.

Consumers in the United States are responding to the latest revelations with an unprecedented private-sector emergency preparedness plan. Websites such as SurvivalSeedBank.com are struggling to keep up with orders as people make plans to go “off-grid” in pursuit of food independence.

According to Bill Heid, spokesman for SurvivalSeedBank, demand for the company’s “Full Acre Crisis Garden” product appears to be increasing.

Survival experts also note that one of the real risks of the current crisis is that consumers have become dependent on just-in-time delivery systems and retail stores that are hundreds or thousands of miles from food sources.

Stores have only an average of 72 hours of inventory on hand and very few families are capable of producing their own food, so even a temporary shortage of food supplies could be catastrophic.

Previous generations lived much closer to the food supply or grew their own vegetables and could therefore weather problems in the food distribution chain.

Heid explains why so many people now are focused on food independence and not just financial planning in the event of a collapse.

“In a real crisis, food will be more valuable than gold or silver. When you’re hungry, gold or silver coins won’t always help you, and the few people who have food may not be willing to trade for something which can’t be easily converted. Open pollinated seeds are truly the ultimate barter item in a meltdown. It seems like folks are waking up to reality of some very dangerous market conditions ahead.”

More information on planting a full acre crisis garden can be found at SurvivalSeedBank.com.

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