Biden administration invests $500 million in domestic agriculture to fight crop shortages

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President Joe Biden has described combating inflation as his 'top' domestic priority.

The White House announced on Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture would be taking a series of actions designed to increase domestic food production, with an eye toward fighting inflation and goods shortages caused in part by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The administration said it would take action to "support American farmers, reduce food prices, and feed the world," noting that food prices were already rising globally before Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the unprovoked attack on Ukraine.

In March, President Joe Biden's administration announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture would allot $250 million in grants for domestic fertilizer production. On Wednesday, the White House announced the USDA would double that investment to $500 million. Russia has historically been the largest global exporter of fertilizer, with over a million tons of the material imported to the United States each year. America paid Russia $1.28 billion for fertilizers in 2021, according to data from the United Nations.

Additionally, the Biden administration also said the federal government would expand the availability of "double-cropping" insurance to farmers, adding as many as 681 counties to those that are currently covered. Double-cropping is the practice of using farmland to produce a second crop on the same patch of land within the same year to maximize production.

Biden is also working within the USDA to streamline planning and cost-sharing assistance programs that help farmers implement "precision agriculture," a farm management system that uses technology to reduce fertilizer usage and maximize crop yields.

"America's farmers are the breadbasket of democracy and are already playing a critical role in the fight against Putin's Price Hike," the White House said in a statement.

In April, the International Monetary Fund cut its projections for global economic growth, specifically citing the impact of the invasion of Ukraine as a reason.

"The effects of the war will propagate far and wide, adding to price pressures and exacerbating significant policy challenges," Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, economic counselor for the IMF, said in a blog post at the time.

The IMF said the conflict has caused commodities prices to increase "sharply," since both Russia and Ukraine export goods such as wheat and corn. The group also warned that shortages of food and fuel caused by the conflict "may also significantly increase the prospect of social unrest in poorer countries."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday compared Biden's actions to help farmers to ongoing efforts to provide arms and military advice to the Ukrainian government.

"Just as we are providing weapons, we are going to work on doing more we can to support farmers to provide more wheat and other food around the world," Psaki told reporters.

The announcement of additional help to farmers follows Biden's announcement on Tuesday that his administration considers inflation his "top domestic priority." Biden is pushing for the ultra-wealthy and large corporations to pay their "fair share in taxes," and has called on Congress to pass laws addressing costs associated with child care, medications, and food.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.