Seed World

Russian Invasion Could Cut Ukraine Planted Acres in Half

Kharkiv, Ukraine: 22 March, 2022 - Volunteers prepare food in the basement of a cafe for soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Kharkiv — Photo by Fotoreserg

EU Allows Planting on Conservation Acreage Amid Russian Invasion of Ukraine.

The European Union (EU) recently announced a program that allows Ukrainian farmers to plant crops on conservation acreage to increase crop production amid Russia’s invasion.

“The European Union is proposing a 1.5 billion-euro ($1.65 billion) funding package for farmers,” wrote Bloomberg in an article last week.

“Food prices have soared as the war cuts off most shipments from Ukraine, a major grain and chicken exporter. In the first-ever release of agricultural crisis funds, the bloc plans to provide 500 million euros of funding for member states to distribute to farmers most impacted by high energy and fertilizer prices, officials said. EU nations could then top up those funds with their own resources to reach the 1.5 billion-euro total,” the article went on to state.

The European Commission put forth their conservation plan last Wednesday, introducing measures to aid Ukraine’s agriculture industry. The program includes nearly $550 million in direct payments and gives farmers permission to plant their crops on fallow conservation acreage. The EU will not take a cut for “greening payments” from those crops.

“Russia’s war against Ukraine has created a multitude of problems including in relation to global food security,” European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said. “When it comes to food, now is the time for Europe to show its solidarity: to help Ukraine, its people and farmers, as well as vulnerable food-importing countries around the world that face surging prices and potential shortages.” 

In addition to the crisis funds, “Other measures will free up almost 4 million hectares of fallow land for crops in 2022, officials said. While it won’t be the most productive land, it will give farmers more flexibility, they said,” according to the Bloomberg article.

Ukraine Acreage May Half

Ukraine’s spring crop sowing area is predicted to halve this year, according to Agriculture Minister Roman Leshchenko. Prior to the Russion invasion, 15 million hectares were expected. Now, officials are predicting around 7 million hectares, shared Pavel Polityuk in an article for Reuters.

The 2022 harvest and exports are at high risk. As one of the major global agriculture producers and exporters, this creates a significant issue for countries relying on Ukraine for resources.

Exports of rye, oats, millet, buckwheat, salt, sugar, meat and livestock have already been suspended due to the invasion. Licenses for wheat, corn and sunflower have also been introduced, said Polityuk in a separate article.

Officials remain hopeful late crops are still possible. “The territory of hostilities is constantly moving, and we hope that there will be some changes in the situation in terms of achieving peace, and we will be able to plant at least late crops those areas that are now in the war zone,” Leshchenko explained to Reuters.

Should the U.S. Follow Suit?

The European Union’s program has introduced a new pressure to the Biden administration.  

The American Farm Bureau Federation has joined forces with grain and oilseed processors to urge the USDA to allow cropping of Conservation Reserve Program acreage.

“The United States needs to produce more grain and oilseeds to offset the loss of Ukraine’s grain and sunflowers. Time is of the essence,” the National Grain and Feed Association stated in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“We urge USDA to provide flexibility to producers to plant crops on prime farmland as well as the least environmentally sensitive acres currently in the program without penalty, whether on an emergency basis or through an early-out of their current CRP contracts,” the letter went on to say.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Grain and Feed Association and many others also signed the letter addressed to Vilsack, read more in this article by Reuters.

Read More About the Impact of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine:

ISF Calls for Continued Seed Supply to Ukraine

FAO: Note on the Impact of the War on Food Security in Ukraine

Reuters: Ukraine Grain Trade Threatened by Conflict

War in Ukraine Means Uncertainty for European Potato Industry

FAO DG Tackles Food Security Impact of Russia-Ukraine Conflict, Presents Policy Recommendations