Our Global Food System Was Already in Crisis, Russia’s War Will Make It Worse

Raj Patel in the Boston Review:

The first tank hadn’t yet rolled across the border before the U.S. oil industry was recycling calls to “drill, baby, drill.” Now it’s food’s turn. Together Russia and Ukraine accounted for just under 30 percent of global wheat exports in 2021. The price of wheat hit a record high this year at approximately $12.94 a bushel (it opened the year at $7.55). The Financial Times reports that the U.S. Farm Service Agency is thinking about loosening federal restrictions on land. Dig, baby, dig is a reactionary battle cry in waiting.

Higher food prices will lead to more people going hungry—and digging won’t solve the problem. The malnutrition caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine cannot be fixed by planting new wheat. The season is over for U.S. winter wheat. Farther north, only a small minority of Canadian farmers are bothering to plant more for the spring harvest. Even if farmers were to bend seasons, soil, and rain to their will, spring wheat won’t be ready for four months. The markets are already pricing in the shortfall. Croupiers at grain trading desks the world over are readying themselves for bumper bonuses amid the meager harvests.

More here.