TYLER, Texas (KLTV) – Among the places Russia’s attack on Ukraine will affect East Texans is the grocery store.
Ukraine is a major player when it comes agriculture, with what’s been described as some of the richest soil on Earth. On Wednesday, the Ukrainian government banned exports of rye, barley, buckwheat, sugar, salt, and meat until the end of the year.
“We’re talking about impacts to the global food chain and global food supply when considering the impacts of the war in Ukraine,” said Gary Joiner, Director of Communications for Texas Farm Bureau.
Joiner said agriculture is so important to Ukraine that its flag is symbolic of it. The blue and yellow flag represents a golden field of wheat beneath a clear blue sky.
“The big crops that we all associate with Ukraine are wheat, corn and vegetable oils like sunflowers,” Joiner said. “Those are major exports of that country. Those exports have been halted. Those crops may not be produced this spring because of the war impacts.”
Joiner said Texans can expect a ripple effect of increased food costs because of those shortages, but said the biggest impact will be felt overseas.
“The more dramatic impact of course will be in Europe, in which there actually could be a lack of food,” he said.
Dr. Mark Welch, economist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, said wheat is among the commodities most likely to be affected. He said in terms of food security, the U.S. will be just fine since the country normally exports about half of the wheat produced domestically. Although, he said the overall impacts on the global market will lead to higher prices at the grocery store.
“If you put Ukraine and Russia together in the current marketing year, they’re expected to account for just under 30% of world wheat exports,” Welch said. “If you look at the value of wheat that’s in a common loaf of bread, we’re talking about 10% of its value is derived from the wheat that goes into that loaf of bread. It’s all the other things that it takes to get it from the farm to the grocery store that contribute much, much more to the overall price.”
And it’s not just consumers feeling the pain, but also Texas farmers and ranchers who were already dealing with rising prices before the war even started.
“One of the inputs that Texas farmers and ranchers are most reliant on is fertilizer,” Joiner said. “And those are directly tied, in some cases, to Russia, Ukraine and those areas of Europe in which some of those ingredients and fertilizer are produced.”
And with the cost of fertilizer already 300 to 400 percent higher than this time last year, Joiner said the ongoing war is likely to drive prices even higher.
“It’s a delicate situation,” he said. “Many are concerned if those prices do not stabilize soon, it could be a very difficult 2022 for Texas farmers and ranchers.”
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