Kankakee, Ill.: President Joe Biden vowed to help American farmers try to ease a global spike in food prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as he visited a family farm Wednesday and unrolled policies meant to increase harvests in ways that the administration believes could also help to reduce grocery bills at home.
“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.”
His administration announced three policy shifts to help U.S. farmers amid the global challenges. 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.
Biden noted that Ukraine has 20 million metric tons of wheat and corn in storage that the U.S. and its allies are trying to help ship out of the country. This would help to address some supply issues, though challenges could persist.
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 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said its food price index in April jumped nearly 30% from a year ago, though the index did decline slightly on a monthly basis. Americans are also bearing some pain as food prices are up 9.4% from a year ago, the largest increase in 41 years.