Richard Wright questions the dependence of Europe on Black Sea grain exports

Richard Wright in the Scottish Farmer says that events in the Ukraine give another reminder of the global nature of agriculture. Ukraine is the world’s top barley exporter and a major wheat supplier, much of it going to Europe:

ukraine wheat field“This week, global grain futures rose sharply, although prices are still far from where they were this time last year. This is partly because most crops are now in the ground, and the expectation is that by the time harvest comes around the situation will have resolved itself.

“However the dependence of Europe on Black Sea exports cannot be ignored, and the situation has been complicated by some of the major Ukrainian ports being in the area now controlled by Russia”.

He recalled the 2011 drought in Russia and Ukraine which drove one of many spikes in grain prices because export limits were introduced and Russia also banned grain exports.

Mr Wright – and others – question our dependence on these countries for imports, where political factors as well as weather is a threat to the stability of the supply chain; the Chinese government has leased thousands of acres in Ukraine to grow crops to improve its food security.

He concluded that whoever replaces Dacian Ciolos as EU farm commissioner next October needs to take the issue of food security and a productive European agricultural industry seriously – and events in Ukraine and the threat to its grain supply should serve as a reminder of why that is important.

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