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‘Special report’ sheds light on global food crisis triggered by Russian invasion of Ukraine

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The Russian invasion of Ukraine not only wreaked havoc in that country, but had repercussions around the world, including in other countries dependent on grain and fertilizer exports from Kyiv.

Sometimes referred to as “Europe’s breadbasket”, Ukraine’s wealthy agricultural sector came to a halt earlier this year as the country was ravaged by Russian military strikes and blockades at its ports.

In “Special Report”, presenter Bret Baier detailed how the whole world has been negatively affected and what world leaders are doing to address the crisis.

While Americans have faced war-related shortages in Ukraine, on the other side of the world it’s much grimmer, Baier said.

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Zelensky
((Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

“The war in Ukraine has exacerbated supply chain problems around the world. But as Russian ships continue to block exports and Ukrainian farmers prepare for the 2022 harvest season, the next phase of the crisis global food crisis could get worse,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also recently referenced the crisis, saying that “the world depends on the export of our food”.

Ukraine is a top producer of corn and wheat, Baier said, regardless of its large-scale exports of urea – which is key to Western fertilizer products.

The country accounts for 10% of global wheat exports and 14% of corn exports, much of which goes to the developing world where countries are more lacking in the resources for such agriculture.

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A Lexion combine harvester drives through a field of wheat during a harvest in Benfleet, UK, Tuesday August 24, 2021.

A Lexion combine harvester drives through a field of wheat during a harvest in Benfleet, UK, Tuesday August 24, 2021.
(Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty)

Ukraine’s top five wheat buyers are all considered developing economies by the United Nations, he said, citing Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Lebanon.

Roger Cryan of the American Farm Bureau Federation told Baier that the shortage of exports is creating instability in the global market, which in the United States is driving up prices.

European Council President Charles Michel of Belgium said in a clip that breaking the Black Sea blockade was a top priority, while others noted uncertainty over the number of exports coming out of Ukraine since February, when the invasion began.

Baier pointed to President Biden’s repeated statements that the food crisis in the United States is Russia’s fault, with the president also appearing to cite the Black Sea blockade.

“[W]We’ve never seen anything like Putin’s tax on food and gas,” Biden said.

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Already grappling with sky-high diesel prices, US farmers are being hit again by soaring fertilizer prices, driven in part by Ukraine’s urea exports.

Fertilizer prices are said to have risen 80% last year and 30% so far this year, making it the least affordable fertilizer year since 2008, Baier reported.

He added that during meetings between Biden and other G7 leaders in Germany earlier this year, plans were formulated to send $4.5 billion to countries most affected by food shortages.