Russia's invasion of Ukraine has disrupted global wheat, corn, and other markets. Given relatively low global stocks for major staple foodstuffs, many analysts predict that food insecurity will increase among poor households in low-income countries. Understandably, many world leaders, including the Biden administration, are concerned about how to best address a potential global hunger crisis. However, in the rush to "do something," leaders need to consider the most efficient policies to address the crisis and avoid ill-considered policies that may do little to address the actual problems and could result in unintended consequences that may linger well past the crisis itself.
The most effective way of addressing global food supply concerns would be an immediate end to the war and rebuilding critical infrastructures such as rail lines, storage facilities, and port facilities to allow Ukraine's agricultural sector access to global markets. To that end, the UN secretary general's efforts to end the blockade of Ukraine grain shipping and support the establishment of a blue corridor by sea or a green corridor overland to move foodstuffs from Ukraine should be supported. Unfortunately, the likelihood of a quick end to the war looks increasingly faint, and Russia has given no signs that it would consider granting safe passage of Ukraine food exports through the Black Sea.
The Biden administration has recently put forward a set of proposals aimed at increasing US agricultural production, lowering fertilizer costs, and providing humanitarian food aid to those hurt by the sharp increase in agricultural prices. Here we consider these proposals and other questionable policies such as opening the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and conclude by discussing policies that could provide more immediate relief by addressing and mitigating constraints in the vegetable oil market.