It may not be at the top of their list right now, but one of the issues facing Ukrainian government officials is whether the country’s farmers can plant their corn and sunflower crops in the middle of Russia’s attacks.
Ukraine has roughly the same climate as Iowa and Illinois where farmers are also preparing for planting. You can almost trace the ebb and flow of the war on the other side of the globe in the daily movement of Chicago grain futures.
Along with how destructive the impact can be on civilians, the war is also a reminder of how important food security is to national security, according to Andy Holt, director of business development for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. Holt spoke at the Memphis Agricenter’s Ag Day event.
“Food security is the first step in national security,” said Holt. “When you look at what’s going on in Ukraine because of Russia’s aggression toward this very agriculturally rich land, it has had an impact on everybody, not just the folks who live in Ukraine or the countries around Ukraine that are having to absorb the immigration that’s taking place.
“It’s had an effect on us. The sanctions that have been placed on Russia are having an impact on our capital markets, on our labor markets, and they will continue to have an impact on our agricultural input markets.”
Economists are also beginning to flash warning signs that the continuing conflict could also bring more food price increases around the world.
“We should never retreat from the fact that agriculture and food security is the most important thing that we can do for ourselves as a domestic population,” said Holt. “We have to be able to feed ourselves, and that’s why agriculture is at the foundation of our state and our nation.”
That makes attracting new talent into agriculture more important than ever, especially when fewer and fewer Americans live on farms or in rural areas.
“I want you to hear me that as a person who chose agriculture for my career in the third grade; because I did not want to be a plumber like my dad, the availability and the opportunity is there for you as well,” he said.
“If you have questions, I’d love to talk to you. There are several other folks here that can talk to you about that as well. But at the end of the day, I'm here to celebrate agriculture because I love it, and I live it, and I want to invite more people to the wonderful life that I live.”
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