Powers on Ukraine War & Increasing Food Prices — ‘Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste’

On Sunday, USAID administrator Samantha Powers appeared on ABC's "This Week" and claimed that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is causing food prices to rise globally and will hasten countries turning to natural solutions.

Anchor George Stephanopoulos asked, “We’re also seeing the impact spread beyond Ukraine, beyond Ukraine’s neighbors, beyond Europe. We’re seeing global food shortages all around the world. As the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, what more can be done to address those shortages?

Powers replied, “It is just another catastrophic effect of Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. I mean, as if the harms in Ukraine weren’t enough, you have countries like in sub-Saharan Africa and in the Middle East who get maybe 80 to 90 percent of their wheat or their grain overall from Russia and Ukraine. And you see massive spikes in food prices. Food prices right now, George, globally, are up 34 percent from where they were a year ago. Aided substantially, again, by this invasion.”

She continued, “So, we’ve gone to Congress asking for a substantial increase in humanitarian assistance in order to be able to meet those needs, but we’re also active, of course, in more than 80 countries around the world, well and apart from this crisis. So, we’re working with farmers to also increase their production so that you actually have more supply brought on market. Fertilizer shortages are real now because Russia is a big exporter of fertilizer."

Powers added, "[E]ven though fertilizer is not sanctioned, less fertilizer is coming out of Russia. As a result, we’re working with countries to think about natural solutions like manure and compost. And this may hasten the transition that would have been in the interest of farmers to make eventually anyway. So, never let a crisis go to waste, but we really do need this financial support from the Congress to be able to meet emergency food needs, so we don’t see the cascading deadly effects of Russia’s war extend into Africa and beyond.”

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