Edward Wong and Ana Swanson reported on the front page of today’s New York Times that, “Hulking ships carrying Ukrainian wheat and other grains are backed up along the Bosporus here in Istanbul as they await inspections before moving on to ports around the world.
“‘We’re dealing now with a massive food insecurity crisis‘ Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, said last month at a summit with African leaders in Washington. ‘It’s the product of a lot of things, as we all know,’ he said, ‘including Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.’
“The food shortages and high prices are causing intense pain across Africa, Asia and the Americas. U.S. officials are especially worried about Afghanistan and Yemen, which have been ravaged by war. Egypt, Lebanon and other big food-importing nations are finding it difficult to pay their debts and other expenses because costs have surged. Even in wealthy countries like the United States and Britain, soaring inflation driven in part by the war’s disruptions has left poorer people without enough to eat.”
The Times article noted that, “From March to November, Ukraine exported an average of 3.5 million metric tons of grains and oilseeds per month, a steep drop from the five million to seven million metric tons per month it exported before the war began in February, according to data from the country’s Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food.
“Russia continues to block seven of the 13 ports used by Ukraine. (Ukraine has 18 ports, but five are in Crimea, which Russia seized in 2014.) Besides the three on the Black Sea, three on the Danube are operational.”
Today’s article also pointed out that, “The United States, Brazil and Argentina, key grain producers for the world, have experienced three consecutive years of drought. The level of the Mississippi River fell so much that the barges that carry American grain to ports were temporarily grounded.
Meanwhile, Kirk Maltais reported today at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent U.S. grain futures soaring early in 2022 before their recent retreat. The new year promises to be another volatile one.
“Now, grain prices have fallen close to where they started 2022. The decline tracks with an overall easing of prices for commodities from natural gas to cotton and lumber, which have slipped in recent months after surging. More interest-rate boosts by the Federal Reserve and other central banks to cool economies—a process many analysts say could result in at least a modest recession in 2023—are expected to keep a lid on demand.”
The Journal article noted that, “‘The wild card for grains is the Russia-Ukraine shipping deal and its survivability,’ said commodities analyst Jim Wyckoff. ‘It’s a shaky situation that grain traders will continue to monitor very closely.'”
“‘China should see a period of significant economic growth in 2023, but that is expected to be capped in the first half of the year by rapidly spreading Covid,’ said Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist with StoneX Group.”
Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily FarmPolicy.com News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.
New York Times writers Victoria Kim and Matthew Mpoke Bigg reported today that, "Russian drones targeted southern Ukraine early Tuesday, hitting port infrastructure, warehouses and dozens of trucks near the…