American farmers pinched as rising food prices hit shelves

Midwest

(NewsNation) — The White House is on the defensive as rising prices dominate headlines and conversations around breakfast tables.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday toured a Midwest farm outside Chicago, vowing to help American farmers try to ease a global spike in food prices.

“I stand here today to thank American farmers who are the breadbasket of democracy,” Biden said. “We can make sure that American agricultural exports will make up for the gap in Ukrainian supplies.”

Biden’s efforts are an attempt to signal to voters he knows inflation is a huge problem and he’s trying to tame it.

The war in Ukraine has disrupted the supply of that country’s wheat to global markets, while also triggering higher costs for oil, natural gas and fertilizer. 

The nation’s farmers are feeling the price pinch on essential fuel and fertilizer.

American farmers are not only dealing with those higher prices due to the pandemic but stimulus money pumped into the economy, supply chain problems and the war in Ukraine playing a part as well.

Farmers are also being tasked with making up some of the food shortages caused by the Russian invasion.

Global shortages are dramatically impacting food prices, driving up the cost of groceries, with the Labor Department reporting food prices are up more than 9% over the past year.

“Right now, America is fighting on two fronts,” Biden said. “At home, it’s inflation and rising prices. Abroad, it’s helping Ukrainians defend their democracy and feeding those who are left hungry around the world because Russian atrocities exist.”

Saying inflation is Biden’s top priority, the White House announced actions to help farmers increase food production and lower food prices.

These include doubling funding for domestic fertilizer production to $500 million, greater access to farm management tools for plant and soil needs and efforts to increase the number of counties eligible for “double cropping” insurance so that farmers can reuse their land for planting in the same year.

“I know that families all across America are hurting because of inflation,” Biden said. “I understand what it feels like. I come from a family where, when the price of gas or food went up, we felt it.”

In California, an egg farmer says it’s keeping him up at night.

“My feed is up over one hundred percent,” Frank Hilliker, owner of Hilliker’s Ranch Fresh Eggs, said. “So I’m paying over double for what I was paying a couple of years ago. What keeps me up at night is inflation, all my costs, all my raising costs.”

As inflation is up, wages are also up and we have a hot labor market in this country, with the U.S. economy adding eight million jobs since Biden took office.

But even that is still not enough to outweigh the impact of increasingly high prices on Americans.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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