EU announces €500m to boost food security after Ukraine war

24 March 2022

The European Commission (EC) has announced a new €500m support package to bolster food security following the war in Ukraine.

The EC said the funding would be used to “provide additional financial support to farmers to contribute to global food security, or address market disturbances due to increased input costs or trade restrictions”.

The war in Ukraine has jeopardised global wheat and sunflower oil supplies. Ukraine is vital for global food supply chains, with 12% of global wheat worldwide coming from the country, as well as 80% of all sunflower oil.

The EC said it was increased food prices, rather than supplies themselves, which threatened EU food security. Wheat prices are reported to have risen 50% since the invasion began.

Valdis Dombrovskis, EC executive vice-president, said: “Russia's war against Ukraine has created a multitude of problems including in relation to global food security. 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. 

“At the same time, we need to avoid any export restrictions to keep a lid on food prices. While the EU itself does not face a food security risk, we should still address food affordability issues and take steps to make our agriculture and food supply chains more resilient and sustainable to cope with future crises.”

Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said: “The EU is an agricultural superpower and we will ensure that our farmers have the Commission's full support to respond to the global needs for food. We will do this while working towards making our food supply chains more sustainable and resilient to future crises.”

Meanwhile Ireland has approved a €12m crop growing scheme following depleted supplies due to Russia’s war on Ukraine. 

The Irish government hopes to encourage farmers to plant additional tillage crops including wheat, barley and oats by providing payments of €400 per hectare of crops planted. 

The government also announced it was establishing a national fodder and food security committee to examine how best to deal with the disruptions. 

Charlie McConalogue, minister for agriculture, food and the marine, said: “We are living in unprecedented times. The illegal invasion in Ukraine has put our supply chains under enormous pressure,with extraordinarily high input prices and potential supply chain disruption. 

“Today’s package is aimed at producing more native crops while reducing dependency on imports and on crops with a low demand for chemical fertiliser, which is limited in supply as a result of the invasion.”

For crops to be eligible, the land must not have been in tillage production in 2021.

The move followed calls from the Irish Grain Growers’ Group (IGGG) to establish a tillage taskforce to address potential shortages. 

A spokesperson for the IGGG said: “Countries are shutting their doors on exports, including grain, to preserve food security.

“There is a humanitarian issue building in the Ukraine but we must also recognise that Ireland entering into the world market for grain/grain by-products is taking much needed food out of poorer countries supply chain.

“We need to plan to grow more grain in Ireland. We grow grain as good as grass here in Ireland yet we only have 7% under grain production. That’s one third of what’s possible but unfortunately not probable with current and past policy,” IGGG concluded.

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