Ukraine may not be able to service markets as the conflict continues
By Diego Flammini
A U.S. senator wants more American agriculture to help feed hungry people around the world.
Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) is asking Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to prioritize using U.S. ag in export and food assistance programs to make up for lost volumes due to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
“As both the immediate and long-term effects on Ukraine’s agriculture sector become clearer, the United States should work quickly to provide the necessary commodities through sale or donation to meet countries’ unsatisfied food and commodity needs,” Sen. Moran, who is co-chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus, wrote in a March 4 letter.
“Doing so will help alleviate a greater humanitarian crisis than has already been caused by the unprovoked invasion and will help foster political stability in food insecure countries.”
Ukraine is a major supplier of corn, wheat and other commodities to countries like Kazakhstan, Georgia, Turkey and Egypt.
But because of the ongoing conflict with Russia, ag exports are limited.
The Ukrainian government announced Sunday exports of rye, oats, millet, buckwheat, salt, sugar, and beef are suspended. And any exports of wheat, corn, sunflower oil, poultry and eggs would require licenses, Interfax Ukraine reported.
The United Nations’ World Food Programme is warning this conflict could put more people at risk of food insecurity.
Russia and Ukraine account for about 30 percent of global wheat trade.
The longer the conflict continues, the more people who go hungry.
“This is not just a crisis inside Ukraine. This is going to affect supply chains, and particularly the cost of food,” David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme, said in a March 4 statement. ”Now we’re looking at a price hike that will cost us, in operational costs, anywhere from 60 and 75 million dollars more per month. And that means more people are going to go to bed hungry.”
The U.S. can help alleviate these pressures.
Having U.S. agriculture supply the necessary food for these kinds of programs can help with food security and help manage inflation, Sen. Moran said.
“The average price of food increased 7 percent over the past year, and there are no signs of inflation cooling off soon. It is time for the administration to get serious about addressing food inflation,” he said.