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Rubio, Lummis call on Biden admin to allow farming on conserved land to help global food shortages

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Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) urged the Biden administration to allow farmers to access millions of acres of conserved land in an effort to combat global food shortages, inflation and supply chain issues, in part prompted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the senators requested that farmers be immediately provided flexibilities to use Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands for crop production in an effort to stabilize the price of food.

“Before the war, Ukraine was one of the world’s highest-volume exporters of corn, wheat, sunflower seed oil, and other seed and grain products. However, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine threatens to fully prevent the sowing and harvest of Ukrainian grains from occurring this year,” the senators wrote.

“This reality has already contributed to a sharp rise in grain prices since the invasion began on February 24, and could have lasting impacts on global food prices and supplies, worsen the already poor economic conditions within the U.S., and lead to famine and conflict in some of the world’s most impoverished nations,” they added.

The senators also pointed to the rising U.S. corn prices, which help feed livestock, noting that the influx was due to market fears, inflation and disruptions within the supply chain.

“Given the integral role of corn within our economy, the increasing price of corn is certainly contributing to severe economic harm within the United States and around the world,” they noted.

The development comes more than five weeks after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. The former Soviet Union nation is known as a key exporter of corn, wheat and sunflower oil, but the ongoing conflict is sure to complicate an already messy crux of international supply chain issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Experts warn that the food prices would continue to be impacted if Ukraine is unable to plant their crops amid the Russian invasion.

“In the next few months, if Ukrainian farmers aren’t able to get their crops in the ground as we go into the springtime, and we’re looking at an entire year without a quarter of the world’s wheat supply, it’s going to have a significant impact on prices,” Robb MacKie, president and CEO of the American Bakers Association, said last month.

The Hill has reached out to the Department of Agriculture for comment.

Tags Biden Cynthia Lummis Joe Biden Marco Rubio Tom Vilsack

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