Russia's invasion of Ukraine has had a devastating impact on global food security, said Group of 7 agriculture ministers on Sunday in a communique that called for expansion of Ukrainian grain shipments via a the Black Sea Grain corridor that is exempt from attack.
A month after the USDA proposed new rules to make school meals healthier, hundreds of school nutrition directors will come to Washington next week to tell lawmakers to reject the stricter standards. The School Nutrition Association, which represents school food workers nationwide, argues that stricter rules will be difficult for schools to meet, as they still face labor shortages and supply chain disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the avian flu epidemic. (No paywall)
Ukrainian scientists say soil samples from the Kharkiv region show that “high concentrations of toxins such as mercury and arsenic from munitions and fuel are polluting the ground,” according to a Reuters report.
With U.S. wheat selling for a record-high average of $9.10 a bushel, growers say they will sow the largest amount of land to wheat in seven years, enough to bump up production by 17 percent.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine drove food prices to record levels during 2022 and the Food Price Index remains elevated after a nine-month decline, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
One of every four rural Ukrainian households in an FAO survey said it has reduced or stopped agricultural production due to the Russian invasion, with the figure rising to 40 percent in some oblasts. Rural households account for roughly a third of Ukrainian agricultural output.
Global food prices skyrocketed following the Russian invasion of Ukraine last February, but they have returned to earth, said the FAO Food Price Index, based on monthly changes in a basket of food commodities.
The federal government will keep a closer eye on threats to the U.S. food supply, such as cyberattacks and pandemic diseases, under a national security memorandum signed by President Biden.
UN and European leaders called on Russia on Sunday to revive the international agreement for grain exports from Ukraine, calling it crucial for stabilizing grain prices and keeping food flowing to tens of millions of people.
U.S. growers reaped their second-smallest wheat crop in 20 years due to drought in the Plains, said the Agriculture Department. The smaller-than-expected harvest would delay any American role in restoring grain flows disrupted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
With world hunger rates rising, President Biden announced Wednesday at the United Nations an additional $2.9 billion in U.S. humanitarian assistance, including funds to feed schoolchildren and expand food production. We’re “taking on the food crisis head-on,” said Biden in a speech that denounced Russia for invading Ukraine and called for action on global warming.
Nearly one-third of the people in 77 low- and middle-income countries are food insecure, meaning they lack consistent access to enough food for a healthy and active lifestyle, said an annual USDA report. The 9.8-percent increase to 1.3 billion people this year included 41.7 million affected by higher food, fuel and fertilizer costs attributed to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The world wheat crop is trending downward, due to a brutal heat wave in India and dry weather in Spain and France, said the Agriculture Department in its monthly WASDE report. Although Russia is expected to sharply increase its exports, more than 12 million tonnes of wheat would be liquidated from global stockpiles over the next year in the face of unrelenting demand for food.
Around 193 million people in 53 countries and territories experienced acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels in 2021, an increase of 40 million from the previous year. “The situation is expected to worsen in 2022,” said a report by the Global Network Against Food Crises on Wednesday.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine focused world attention on wheat prices and disruptions of supplies to poor countries that rely on imported grain. Now analysts at the IFPRI think tank say there is “another important emerging food security issue: the war’s impact on vegetable oils.”
The Biden administration said it would put $500 million into farm supports, boosting U.S. wheat production by up to 18 percent and expanding production of food grains and edible oils in an effort to fill the gap created by warfare in Ukraine.“ This funding is going to help ease rising food prices at home as well as abroad caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine,” said President Biden on Thursday.
Six countries in Africa and the Middle East will receive $670 million in additional food aid to mitigate severe food insecurity, said the Biden administration on Wednesday. The assistance will mean the complete drawdown of a USDA emergency fund for the purchase of U.S. commodities for donation to hunger programs overseas.
Grocery prices will rise by an average of 5.5 percent this year, the highest inflation rate at the supermarket since 2008, said the Agriculture Department on Monday. The forecast was an abrupt 2 percentage point increase from last month and was spurred by three months of rapid rises in the prices of many foods.