The Journal Gazette
Thursday, May 12, 2022 1:00 am

Biden outlines plan to help out farmers

Moves made to increase harvests

Associated Press

KANKAKEE, Ill. – President Joe Biden vowed to help American farmers 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.

“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.

Biden toured the 800-acre O'Connor Farms in Illinois with its owners, Jeff and Gina O'Connor. They're growing wheat to be harvested in July and will later use the same land for soybeans.

Biden asked to drive one of their tractors, only to be told it drives itself.

There are limits to how much wheat the U.S. can produce to offset any shortages. The Agriculture Department estimated in March that 47.4 million acres of wheat were planted this year, an increase of just 1% from 2021. This would be the fifth lowest amount of acres dedicated to wheat in records from 1919.

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