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172 FAO Council, U.S. Statements regarding Items 5, 5.1, & 6

Remarks 172 FAO Council, Items 5, 5.1, and 6

Item 5: Global Food Security Challenges and its Drivers: Conflicts and Wars in Ukraine and Other Countries, Slowdowns and Downturns, and Climate Change

U.S. Statement, As Delivered by Charge d’Affaires Rodney Hunter

April 25, 2023


Thank you, Chair.  


The United States appreciates the efforts to produce this comprehensive report that highlights many of the drivers exacerbating food insecurity around the world.  The world is facing unprecedented challenges.  A combination of climate shocks, conflict, and the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted global food production and distribution, driving up the cost of feeding people and families.  Acute global food insecurity is getting worse, not better.   


And now we are confronted with a new crisis. The United States is concerned for the millions of Sudanese in need of critical humanitarian assistance.  Attacks upon humanitarian aid staff, offices, vehicles, equipment, and food stocks like what we have seen in the past week have disrupted humanitarian operations and are always unacceptable.   


We appreciate the efforts of many delegations in this room to pre-coordinate toward consensus, and also the efforts of the Independent Chairperson of the Council (ICC) to reach consensus. However, we submitted a text proposal for decision by this Council (CL 172/INF/7). We call for its en bloc adoption by a vote.  We oppose the amendments proposed by the Russian Federation and similarly oppose the Russian Federation’s additional proposal, both contained in CL 172/INF/8. We encourage others to similarly oppose. 


FAO’s work consistently reminds us how global conflicts and wars, climate change, and economic shocks have intertwined to worsen the food security landscape across the world.  Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflicts continue to be the most significant factor driving acute food insecurity and suppressing global economic growth.  Russia’s illegal full-scale invasion of Ukraine has greatly exacerbated global food insecurity, just as the world is beginning to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.  We remain committed to working with our partners and fellow member-states to confront the continued need for urgent humanitarian assistance and to build more resilient agrifood systems that are prepared to address the cascading effects of climate change.  


The United States is dedicated to building lasting global food security.  We provided $13.5 billion in humanitarian and developmental food security assistance in the last year alone.  However, we acknowledge that no one country can address these multiple crises.  We strongly encourage continued global collaboration and coordination on food security and for member states to reach new heights in their giving.  The status quo is not enough to meet the unprecedented needs facing us now. 


We stress the importance of publishing the next edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report in advance of the 43rd Conference, so that delegations can reflect on its findings in preparation for their discussions about global food security. Now, moving to Item 5.1… 


Item 5.1: Sustainable Global Food Supply Chains:  Comprehensive Implementation of UN-brokered Two Istanbul Agreement signed on July 2022 (known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative) for Maintaining Global Food Security and Nutrition for All

U.S. Statement, As Delivered by Charge d’Affaires Rodney Hunter

April 25, 2023


Thank you, Chair.  


We thank the United Nations and Türkiye for their sponsorship of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI), which has been critical to lowering global food prices and getting urgently needed grain to hungry people around the world.  According to United Nations data, the Initiative has exported over 27.5 million metric tons of grain and oilseeds from Ukraine to global markets since it began operations on August 1, 2022.  Sixty-four percent of wheat exported through the BSGI has gone directly to developing economies.  Furthermore, it has lowered global food prices after they spiked following Russia’s illegal full-scale invasion of Ukraine. 


This lifesaving Initiative is essential to ensure global food security.  It must be extended and expanded by the parties to continue providing its essential benefits to the people of the world.  Unfortunately, the Russian Federation has called the BSGI’s renewal into question.  Media reports indicate that Russia recently blocked ALL Ukrainian exports leaving port for the first time since the inception of the initiative, and while we note reports that exports have begun to depart again, Russia’s intermittent obstruction of BSGI operations harms global food security by delaying shipments, restricting supplies, and keeping prices high for food-importing countries, harming the poorest countries the most.  


It is critical to global food security that Russia cease its obstruction of the initiative and end uncertainty around its extension.  Doing so will move more grain, bring food prices down further, and increase Ukrainian planting for the next crop.  The shortage of grains is unduly burdening developing countries around the world, particularly in Africa where people are already suffering from drought and other impacts of climate change, conflict, and economic shocks from COVID-19.  


We know that Russia frequently claims that its food and fertilizer exports are impeded by Western sanctions.  This is false – Western sanctions exclude Russian food and fertilizer goods and have excluded agricultural products from any banking sanctions.  Media reports and trade data indicate that Russian grain exports in the second half of 2022 were on par with pre-war levels.  If anything, Russia is the one voluntarily restricting its exports – it imposed export quotas on certain fertilizers, recently extended them through the spring, and has stated that it is considering another extension through November. 


Russia has demanded that in exchange for its extension of the grain initiative, Ukraine must allow Russia to export ammonia through a pipeline which runs from Russia’s Volga region to the port at Odesa.  The United Nations is investigating the possibility for this in good faith with Ukraine and the Russian Federation.  Russia signed an MOU with the United Nations last July in which Russia committed to “facilitate the unimpeded export of food, sunflower oil and fertilizers” from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.  The UN and others have upheld their commitments.  For the interests of the world, it is imperative Russia to do the same. 


We urge Russia to extend and expand the BSGI.  The BSGI must work at a pace that meets global demand.  A hungry world cannot wait.  A smoothly operating BSGI will, as it did last fall, move more grain, bring prices down further, and increase planting for the next crop.  The time for action is now.  


Item 6: The Impact of the War in Ukraine on Global Food Security and Related Matters under the Mandate of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO)

U.S. Statement, As Delivered by Charge d’Affaires Rodney Hunter

April 25, 2023


The United States welcomes FAO’s analysis on the impact of global food security resulting from Russia’s illegal full-scale invasion of Ukraine in section IV of CL 172/5.  Russia’s illegal, unprovoked, and unjustified war against Ukraine has greatly exacerbated global food insecurity, in addition to causing immense human suffering and uncertainty in global agricultural markets.   

Among the most impacted are vulnerable populations in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Low-Income-Food-Deficit Countries (LIDFC) who are already facing food insecurity and the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  These countries are highly dependent on imported foodstuffs and fertilizer – including from Russia and Ukraine.  We call on Russia to end its illegal war against Ukraine.  Russia’s immediate withdrawal of its forces from Ukraine would provide immediate improvements in the availability and affordability of food – particularly for the poorest countries and most vulnerable populations – and would enable the world to focus tacking the other drivers of global food insecurity.   

The United States remains concerned about the global food security outlook as Russia prolongs its war.  We highlight the report’s update that Ukraine is planting less food and has a degraded ability to store and export grain due to mine contamination and infrastructure damage caused by the Russian Federation.  We support FAO’s role in addressing the consequences of Russia’s war against Ukraine within its mandate and appreciate FAO’s impact assessments and data analysis.  We encourage FAO to provide further data and information specifically targeted to developing countries and the most vulnerable populations, disaggregated by region and, where possible, at national and sub-national levels.   

Finally, the United States highlights a glaring omission in section V of CL 172/5 “Action Needed.”  FAO lays out a comprehensive accounting of how Russia’s war is causing global food insecurity.  However, it fails to call an end to the very thing resulting in global food insecurity: Russia’s illegal war.  The United States urges FAO to join us and other Members to call on Russia to end its war immediately.  Russia and Ukraine are two of the world’s largest agricultural producers.  We cannot achieve lasting, sustained global food security without Russia first ending its war of choice against Ukraine.