A substantial portion of the global supply of grains and wheat is grown in Ukraine and Russia but this year’s harvest has been severely threatened by the ongoing Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
President Joe Biden addressed that significant threat Thursday and acknowledged the “real” possibility of food shortages due to that conflict and, to a lesser extent, the severe economic sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its aggression, The Hill reported.
In light of the probable food shortages that will result from the war between Russia and Ukraine, however, the president announced tentative plans reached with the G7 nations and European Union to try and make up for the impending shortfall in global wheat production.
The price of sanctions and war
President Biden held a press conference Thursday at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, and was almost immediately asked about the predicted food shortages, particularly involving wheat, and what might be done to counter that.
“With regard to food shortage, yes, we did talk about food shortages. And — and it’s going to be real,” Biden said.
“The price of these sanctions is not just imposed upon Russia, it’s imposed upon an awful lot of countries as well, including European countries and our country as well,” he continued. “And — because both Russia and Ukraine have been the breadbasket of Europe in terms of wheat, for example — just to give you one example.”
Biden went on to note that both the U.S. and Canada were also major producers of wheat and that there had been discussions about increasing production and distribution of foodstuffs to alleviate the impending shortages. He also noted discussions with European nations about ending certain trade restrictions on food and wheat to better address the problem.
G7 Leaders to address “global food security crisis”
As Biden noted, the threat of food shortages is indeed very “real,” though The Hill pointed out that the worst effects will likely be felt by nations in Africa and the Middle East who tend to be the primary recipients of wheat exports from Russia and Ukraine. However, the effects will also be felt to some extent in the rest of Europe and America as well.
That said, a statement released by the G7 Leaders made mention of the fact that the “war places global food security under increased pressure” and that the group was prepared to “do what is necessary to prevent and respond to the evolving global food security crisis.”
That would include additional support for agricultural production in other nations and increased donations to various international organizations that are already working to address global food insecurities and shortages.
Agreement with European Union
Likewise, in a joint statement from President Biden and European Union President Ursula von der Leyen, the threat of reduced wheat production and global food shortages was among the several topics that were addressed.
That statement said, “In order to prevent a potential food crisis triggered by price hikes and disruptions to food supply sparked by Putin’s war in Ukraine, we intend to redouble our combined efforts to increase global food security and provide direct food aid, where warranted, to our partners worldwide.”