Planting Continues in Ukraine, as UN Sees “Breaking Point” Over Food Prices in Middle East

Farm Policy News | by Keith Good | April 5, 2022

Ukrainian farmers have sown about 400,000 hectares (988,000 acres) with various spring crops by Thursday, or a tenth more than by the same date last year, despite the Russian invasion, deputy agriculture minister Taras Vysotskiy said.

“A lack of fuel had not affected sowing, he added.

“‘We are negotiating with suppliers so that the sowing campaign does not stop,’ Vysotskiy said in a televised statement.”

The Reuters article reminded readers that, “This month, Ukrainian agriculture officials told Reuters that the spring crop sowing area in 2022 could more than halve from last year, to about 7 million hectares, versus 15 million hectares expected before the invasion.”

In a separate article yesterday, Pavel Polityuk reported that, “Ukraine, a major global grain grower and exporter, has stocks of 13 million tonnes of соrn and 3.8 million of wheat, but cannot export the grain as seaports are blocked due to the Russian invasion, deputy agriculture minister Taras Vysotskiy said on Thursday.”

And Megan Specia, Anton Troianovski and Steven Erlanger reported in today’s New York Times that, “Both Ukraine and Russia are major providers of the world’s wheat, corn and barley, but Ukrainian agricultural officials said Thursday that more than 16 million tons of grain had been stranded in the country, and that Ukraine had missed out on at least $1.5 billion in exports.

“Earlier in the week, the U.S. State Department’s No. 2 official warned at a U.N. Security Council meeting that the war posed ‘immediate and dangerous implications for global food security.’”

Also today, Reuters News reported that, “One of President Vladimir Putin’s allies warned on Friday that Russia, a major global wheat exporter, could limit supplies of agriculture products to ‘friendly’ countries only, amid Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.”

“‘We will only be supplying food and agriculture products to our friends,’ [Dmitry Medvedev, who served as president from 2008 to 2012 and is now deputy secretary of Russia’s security council] said on social media. ‘Fortunately we have plenty of them, and they are not in Europe or North America at all.’”

Meanwhile, Reuters writer Gus Trompiz reported yesterday that, “France wants countries with surplus grain stocks to consider releasing supplies as part of a plan to shield poorer countries from the impact of the war in Ukraine on food staples, a French official said on Thursday.”

With respect to U.S. wheat stocks and trade, Reuters writer Mark Weinraub reported yesterday that, “U.S. wheat stocks fell to 1.025 billion bushels, their lowest in 14 years, the government said on Thursday, with supplies from the drought-reduced harvest of 2021 dwindling as global demand rises;” and Dow Jones writer Kirk Maltais reported yesterday that, “Export sales for U.S. wheat fell back in this week’s report from the USDA, amid historically high prices for the grain.”

More broadly with respect to global wheat issues, Reuters writers Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton reported this week that, “China has allocated another 2 billion yuan ($315.10 million) to facilitate the growth of its winter wheat crop, the country’s finance ministry said on Thursday,” while Tarek Amara reported this week at Reuters that, “Tunisia aims to achieve self-sufficiency in the production of durum wheat from next season, the Minister of Agriculture said on Thursday, as the country’s financial crisis worsens due to the rise in grain prices resulting from the war in Ukraine.”

And today, Reuters News reported that, “Italy will not have supply issues in the short-term regarding agricultural raw materials such as corn and wheat, the country’s agriculture minister said on Friday.”

Nonetheless, Bloomberg’s Salma El Wardany reported yesterday that,

Soaring costs for food staples in import-dependent Middle Eastern and North African countries are putting people’s resilience at a ‘breaking point,’ according to the United Nations’ World Food Programme.

In news regarding fertilizer, Bloomberg’s Elizabeth Elkin reported yesterday that, “The world’s biggest nitrogen fertilizer company may be increasing its market share in Latin America, one of the most important crop-producing regions, as supplies ebb from Russia.

In other fertilizer related news, Bloomberg writers Kim Chipman, Michael Hirtzer, and Dominic Carey reported yesterday that, “U.S. farmers are poised to plant more soybeans than corn for just the third time ever as the highest fertilizer prices on record prompt growers to turn away from the cost-intensive grain. Corn and spring wheat futures rose.

Corn seedings are estimated at 89.5 million acres, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s closely watched prospective plantings report. That’s down from 93.4 million last season and far lower than the 92 million anticipated by a Bloomberg survey. Soybean sowings are seen rising to a record 91 million acres, compared to an estimate of 88.9 million. Wheat acres are expected to rise only 1%.”

“Growers are grappling with the highest farm-cost inflation in decades, including record fertilizer prices as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shakes up global supplies,” the Bloomberg article said.

With respect to other production costs, Jack Ewing and Clifford Krauss reported in today’s New York Times that, “Farmers are spending more to keep tractors and combines running.”

“The source is the sudden surge in the price of diesel, which is quietly undercutting the American and global economies by pushing up inflation and pressuring supply chains from manufacturing to retail.”

Today’s article noted that, “‘It’s not just the fuel we put into pickups, tractors, combines,’ said Chris Edgington, an Iowa corn farmer. ‘It’s a cost of transporting those goods to the farm, it’s a cost of transporting them away.’”

Source : https://agfax.com/2022/04/04/planting-continues-in-ukraine-as-un-sees-breaking-point-over-food-prices-in-middle-east/

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