Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined other G7 agriculture ministers Friday morning in a virtual meeting with Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Roman Leshchenko. Following that virtual meeting, Vilsack took the stage at Commodity Classic in New Orleans to give the keynote address, then met with a small group of agriculture journalists, where he shared more of what was discussed in that virtual meeting.
“First off, he expressed appreciation for the solidarity that we’ve shown, and I think he underscored the desire and the will on the part of the Ukrainian farmers to be able to plant this summer. And what they need is fuel. The fuel that is being used in military applications would have been used in farming applications,” Secretary Vilsack said. “So, he is requesting, primarily from European countries, additional fuel supplies. That was his single ask.”
“I think he is, obviously, putting us on notice that we need to make sure that we do everything we possibly can to provide as much stability in the marketplace as we can,” Vilsack continued. “Stability is important because at the early stages of a situation like this there is a lot of speculation and speculation can lead to people making decisions or judgments that may not be based on what’s going on the ground and may be based on what they think may happen. So, I think we want to be careful about what we say and what we talk about in terms of Ukraine. We want to make sure we speak with some degree of certainty when we talk about these things.”
Meanwhile, G7 Agriculture Ministers issued a statement following the March 11th virtual meeting. It stated in part:
“We are all appalled by and condemn the large-scale aggression by the Russian Federation against the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, enabled by the Belarusian Government. We are deeply saddened by the devastating human losses and suffering, and we express our solidarity with Ukraine in line with our G7 Leader’s Statement on the invasion of Ukraine by armed forces of the Russian Federation.”
It further condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine and urges nations around the world to not fall into food hoarding or price fixing.
“We will not tolerate artificially inflated prices that could diminish the availability of food and agricultural products. We will also fight against any speculative behaviour that endangers food security or access to food for vulnerable countries or populations. Therefore, we are closely monitoring markets affecting the food system, including futures markets, to ensure full transparency. We will continue to share reliable data and information on global food market developments, especially through the relevant international organisations,” the statement read.
Listen to Vilsack’s comments on Ukraine.
National Correspondent / AgNet Media, Inc.
Sabrina Halvorson is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and public speaker who specializes in agriculture. She primarily reports on legislative issues and hosts The AgNet Weekly podcast. Sabrina is a native of California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley.