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Temporary silos to speed Ukraine grain exports — Biden

The United States will build temporary grain silos on the border of Ukraine and Poland to help overcome a logistical barrier to exporting Ukrainian grain by rail, President Biden announced on Tuesday. “I’m working closely with our European partners to get 20 million tons of grains locked in Ukraine out onto the market to help bring down food prices,” he said.

Ukraine ordinarily is one of the leading wheat suppliers to the world market, the No. 1 exporter of sunflower oil and a large corn exporter as well. But its Black Sea ports are closed due to a blockade that followed Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. The USDA estimates Ukrainian wheat and corn exports in the year ahead will be half the level before the invasion.

The invasion scrambled wheat distribution channels and drove up commodity prices. Food-deficient countries in Africa and the Middle East face sharply higher costs, with the risk of hunger.

“They can’t get out through the Black Sea because they’ll get blown out of the water. So we’re working on a plan to get it out through other countries by rail,” said Biden during a speech to the AFL-CIO convention.

“But guess what? Ukraine has a system like Russia has — a rail gauge that is different than the gauge of the rest of the tracks in Europe. So we’re going to build silos — temporary silos — in the borders of Ukraine, including in Poland, so we can transfer it from those cars into those silos, into (rail) cars in Europe, and get it out to the ocean, and get it across the world. But it’s taking time.”

Biden also mentioned the plan for temporary silos during a speech at reception over the weekend in Beverly Hills, California.

Rail shipment of grain from Ukraine is a slower process than ocean freighters but the patched-together route to Belarus was the only alternative at hand.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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