Conservative Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) called on the Biden administration to authorize farmers to plant on thousands of acres of conserved land to alleviate global food shortages, in addition to inflation and supply chain difficulties experienced in part because of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

According to a press release from Sen. Rubio’s office, through a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, both senators urged immediate relinquishment of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands to address food security threats.

“Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in historic levels of uncertainty and disruption within global grain markets, and the situation threatens nations which are at risk of experiencing food insecurity,” they wrote.

“Those nations which have heavily relied upon Ukraine and Russia in the past for grain supplies are especially at risk, and the economic ripples caused by the war are adversely impacting Americans.”

“Before the war, Ukraine was one of the world’s highest-volume exporters of corn, wheat, sunflower seed oil, and other seed and grain products. However, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine threatens to fully prevent the sowing and harvest of Ukrainian grains from occurring this year,” they added in the letter.

The senators also noted that a further sharp increase in grain prices could affect the U.S. economy and “lead to famine and conflict in some of the world’s most impoverished nations.”

They also addressed the concern over the increase in corn prices due to inflation (40% from September 2021), as this cereal represents more than 95% of the raw material used to feed U.S. livestock. 

“Given the integral role of corn within our economy, the increasing price of corn is certainly contributing to severe economic harm within the United States and around the world,” the senators said.

Rubio and Lummis noted the need to establish “CRP contracts with farmers.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) “Currently conserves approximately four million acres of high quality farmland,” which the senators said could be used to increase U.S. food production quickly.

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