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USDA says no discussions about emergency crops in Conservation Reserve

The USDA is not considering suggestions that it open the land-idling Conservation Reserve for cropping this year to stabilize grain supplies following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said press secretary Kate Waters on Thursday. “There are no immediate discussions to that effect.”

Economist Joe Glauber of the IFPRI think tank predicted that only a relatively small amount of additional wheat — less than 100 million bushels — would be harvested if the Conservation Reserve rules were changed. The USDA projects U.S. wheat production this year at 1.977 billion bushels, below the five-year average. On Wednesday, economist Scott Irwin of the University of Illinois suggested an emergency opening of the Conservation Reserve for one year. Russia and Ukraine, two of the world’s largest wheat exporters, may be out of the international market for months.

Reuters quoted unnamed sources “familiar with the matter” as saying the administration was studying a possible waiver of biofuel mandates as a way to bolster food supplies. Corn and soybean oil are food ingredients as well as feedstocks for biofuels. But an administration official told the news agency that “there is no serious consideration of this by the White House right now.”

Wheat prices have skyrocketed by 37% and corn by 21% so far this year, said ABC News. “Food producers in the United States get most of their raw materials domestically, but any drop in production and exports from Ukraine would reverberate globally through price increases.”

Russia and Ukraine account for 28% of the global wheat trade and 17% of the corn trade.

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