Russia’s invasion of Ukraine set the wheels in motion for the Global Food Crisis of 2022. As epicenters of world food, fertilizer, cooking oil, and gas production, the removal of Russian and Ukrainian exports created an enormous supply shock sending food prices soaring. The least resilient and food insecure nations were hit the hardest.
The rise in prices prompted an increase in alternative sources of supply, but only after several difficult months. The gap was partially filled by exhausting existing food and cash reserves as well as extending credit. On the diplomatic front, the signing of the BSGI also proved instrumental by allowing at least a portion of blockaded food supplies to be exported. For its part, the US government response was dramatic: extending aid, resources, and credit. That said, with many resources exhausted, the risk of a future food crisis remains concerning.
Food supply shocks are best understood through a pricing perspective and resiliency efforts best assessed by their ability to place downward pressure on food prices. The Food Supply Shock model provides a useful tool for planners to understand, shape and assess their actions. Rather than being proscriptive, planners can assess actions and activities based on how they can address the pricing issue, and thus open an array of creative and non-standard solutions.
Traditionally, USG efforts have relied on the Diplomatic and Development aspects of foreign policy to address food insecurity. This is understandable given the nature of the task to build resiliency in fragile states. That said, Defense has an important and underappreciated role in preparing for the next food supply shock. It’s unique suite of defense stability tasks can provide significant downward pressure on food prices.
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