Global food crisis looms amid conflict in Ukraine

Business

(NewsNation) — As food prices continue to soar, the conflict in Ukraine is impacting the global food supply and agricultural production, and food experts say a global food crisis is on the horizon.

According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, Russia and Ukraine supply 70% of the world’s sunflower oil, 30% of the world’s wheat and 15% of the world’s corn.

But with U.S. sanctions against Russia and Ukraine, along with farm fields being in a war zone, there will soon be a larger reliance on American farmers. However, the problem is that with rising production costs and major supply chain issues, those farmers are hurting, too.

Since the coronavirus pandemic started, many farmers have been struggling with supply chain shortages.

Craig Robertson, an Illinois farmer, said he waited for one part for five months.

“Luckily, it did not stop us from harvesting; I was able to use duct tape and what have you to keep plugging the hole up and keep going,” explained Robertson.

NewsNation first spoke to Robertson in October, amid the John Deere plant strikes, when he ordered the recently arrived part. It was a part he said that would typically take three days to receive.

“We’re used to doing whatever you have to do to get the job done,” Robertson said.

Rain or shine, Robertson said little stops him and his friends from cultivating and harvesting their crops. But some of his friends were not so lucky, forced to stop work, lose crops or wait days to begin working again.

“The dealer had to bring them out an entirely new machine because they couldn’t get them that electronic part because of the shortage of computer chips,” Robertson said.

Adding to supply chain issues are rising costs of grain, fertilizers and gas.

Grain futures increased by 21%. Meanwhile, fertilizers have been up 30% since the beginning of last year, according to Cru, a British commodity consultancy.

Farmers are also feeling the effects of the nationwide gas hike. Fuel prices are up nearly $3 since this time last year. According to AAA, the average price for regular unleaded gas per gallon is $4.17, which was $3.92 a month ago and $2.87 a year ago.

“The best thing you can do is watch your expenses; try not to spend money on things that aren’t absolutely necessary,” Robertson said.

Yet, when his profits are low, Robertson said he and many farmers are just trying to make do right now.

“It is discouraging, but me and my friends are not the type to quit real easy,” Robertson said. “I’m not ready to get out of farming. I don’t want to get out of farming.”

When asked who will feel the brunt of these costs, he said, “Just be prepared for higher food prices. The expenses to grow food have gone up a lot, and those expenses are going to put passed right now to the consumer.”

Many American farmers hope for reduced farming regulations and lesser taxes to stave off a potential future food crisis.

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