Steven Mufson
Washington Post
June 5, 2012

From the copper mines in Chile to the corn farms of North Dakota to the oil fields of the Middle East, commodity prices have started to crumble.

The prices of metals, energy and agricultural goods have dropped as anxiety has ratcheted up over Europe’s currency crisis, China’s slowing growth and the stalling U.S. economy.

On Friday, copper futures fell to their lowest level of 2012. On Monday, cotton fell to a 31-month low. Sugar hit a 21-month low. Last week, the price of OPEC’s basket of crude oil grades slipped below $100 a barrel for the first time in nearly eight months.

“We’ve seen a decline in corn prices over past few months,” said Barton Schott, a third generation farmer in Kulm, N.D., who is chairman of the National Corn Growers Association. “I think it’s all related to the world economy and price of the dollar,” he said, adding that “outside investors” and investment funds that had been big buyers earlier in the year had reversed course and started selling corn a month and a half ago.

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