Growing concerns about war-torn Ukraine’s expected decline in food production have led lawmakers to press the Biden administration to help American farmers so they can make decisions about the increased production, as many experts believe a food and humanitarian crisis is looming.
President Joe Biden recently visited Illinois to announce more flexibility to farmers so they can increase production.
The American Soybean Association and its agricultural leaders in a statement welcomed President Biden’s announcement that the White House plans to help American farmers increase agricultural production to counter reduced food exports from Europe and other market factors resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
From an Illinois farm, the president outlined the three noted components of the initiative, which include:
• Increase the number of counties eligible for double crop insurance, which will allow farmers to plant a second crop on the same land in the same year, helping to boost production without relying on farmers to replace crops or cultivate new land ;
• Prioritize technical assistance for technology-driven “precision agriculture” and other nutrient management tools that can result in less fertilizer use without reducing yields; and
• Double funding for domestic fertilizer production to $500 million.
ASA President Brad Doyle said in a statement from the organization, “The President is improving access to double cropping insurance coverage and technical assistance for precision agriculture and nutrient management, and is investing more in domestic fertilizer production. We applaud this announcement and look forward to soybean farmers realizing these benefits.”
“American corn growers continue to feed and feed the world even as they face challenges from the war in Ukraine and high input costs,” said National Corn Growers Association CEO Jon Doggett, who attended the announcement. “We appreciate the efforts of President Biden and the USDA to help farmers address these challenges, and the recognition of the key role farmers play in providing solutions.”
U.S. Senator John Boozman, R-AR, a senior member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, issued the following statement May 11 in response to new U.S. Department of Agriculture proposals for flexibilities additional for agricultural producers:
“For months I have been sounding the alarm about the need for the Biden administration to devise a plan that empowers American farmers and ranchers to help address the global food crisis caused by the ruthless invasion of Ukraine by Russia. While the administration is taking a positive step by announcing some measures that will boost the dual cultivation of certain cultures this fall and into 2023, the Secretary can and must do more to address the immediate challenges, including administrative flexibilities for CRP and cover crops, which have been successfully implemented in recent years The reality is that it will take years for the benefits of this proposal to materialize as a food crisis ensues.
In April, Bozeman had requested additional information as farmers as growers sought to harvest spring-sown crops.
In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Boozman points out that USDA’s international food aid programs are heavily supported by donations of American-grown food products. He calls on the USDA to develop a plan for the coming food shortage leading to the fall harvest of spring-sown crops.
“The McGovern-Dole program has used American agricultural products to establish school lunch programs and help address food insecurity among children in developing countries. The monetization of donated commodities like rice, soybeans, and wheat under the Food for Progress program has helped improve the agricultural sectors and fight hunger and malnutrition in these countries. While many of these development programs have helped reduce world hunger, the urgency we face today is beyond the scope of this work,” Boozman wrote.
Boozman specifically requests “regular written updates on USDA efforts at least every two weeks” on the department’s plans to:
• Ensure that US producers have access to the resources needed to meet increased global demand;
• Work with federal agencies to prepare for anticipated food shortages due to declining production in Ukraine, record production costs and disrupted supply chains; and
• Engage other federal agencies to ensure a coordinated plan to ensure that regulatory actions, such as those pursued by the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency regarding animal drugs and crop protection tools, for example, will not result in a net decrease in food and raw material yields.
The USDA has estimated that 40 million more people could be pushed into poverty and food insecurity due to the invasion of Ukraine, worsening a historic level of global food insecurity, according to a Kansas Wheat official. As a result, the USDA and the US Agency for International Development announced last week the injection of new funds for US food aid programs. As it has for nearly 70 years, American wheat will play a pivotal role in helping to feed those in need.
“Today’s food aid programs were started by a farmer in Kansas, who suggested that American farmers could share their harvest with neighbors around the world,” said Justin Gilpin, CEO of Kansas Wheat. “Kansas Wheat Farmers are proud to continue this tradition of promoting food assistance programs that provide high quality wheat to those in need.”
The Biden administration has announced that the US Department of Agriculture and the US Agency for International Development are taking the extraordinary step of withdrawing the entire balance of the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust as part of an effort to provide $670 million dollars of food aid to countries in need. following Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The world is suffering from historic levels of global food insecurity, which are exacerbated by the impact of Russia’s war against Ukraine on global food supplies. Available estimates suggest an additional 40 million people could be pushed into poverty and food insecurity as a result of Russia’s aggression.
USAID will use BEHT’s $282 million to purchase U.S. food commodities to bolster existing emergency food operations in six countries facing severe food insecurity: Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Yemen. USDA will provide $388 million in additional financing through the Commodity Credit Corporation to cover ocean freight, inland transportation, inland transportation, shipping and handling, and other associated costs .
“Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine, another major agricultural exporter, is driving up food and energy costs for people around the world,” Vilsack said. “America’s farmers, ranchers and producers are in a unique position through their productivity and through the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust, to help directly feed those around the world affected by these challenges.
“In Ukraine, which provides 10% of the world’s wheat, farmers are struggling to sow and harvest their crops for fear of Russian bombing and landmines, and their path to exporting these vital commodities is severely limited by the Russian invasion, which caused the closure of Ukraine’s ports,” said USAID Administrator Samantha Power. “Putin’s decision to wage a senseless and brutal war against a peaceful neighbor is leading to a staggering global food crisis. Today’s withdrawal of the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust will help us meet the unprecedented needs in countries around the world that are facing historic food insecurity.