Ag Policy Blog

USAID Chief Criticizes Russia for Halting Grain Deal, Announces Aid to Ukrainian Farmers

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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In Ukraine on Tuesday, Samantha Power, administrator for USAID, criticized Russia over its latest moves on the Black Sea Grain Initiative and announced her agency will provide $250 million more in aid to Ukrainian farmers. (Image from USAID video)

At the Port of Odesa in Ukraine on Tuesday, USAID Administrator Samantha Power denounced Russia's decision to suspend participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative as Power also announced $250 million more in aid to help support Ukrainian farmers.

Power pointed to USAID's Agriculture Resilience Initiative-Ukraine (AGRI-Ukraine), citing it would provide an additional $250 million to support Ukraine's agriculture sector. This brings the U.S. government's total investment in the AGRI-Ukraine initiative to $350 million.

Russia on Monday ended a United Nations agreement that allowed Ukraine to export grain out of the Black Sea. Over the past year the grain deal had allowed Ukraine's Black Sea ports to export more than 32.7 million metric tons of commodities to 45 countries, the United Nations noted last week.

"I want to start by expressing grave dismay with the Russian Federation's decision to withdraw from the Black Sea Grain Initiative," Power said at the port. "This is a reckless decision that will have profound human consequences. And it's just another example of Russian callousness and disregard for human lives and livelihoods – not only here in Ukraine but all around the world."

Power noted Ukraine's agricultural products and grain are critical for the world's food supply and key to the country's economic recovery and future prosperity. USAID, through AGRI-Ukraine, will continue to help Ukraine's farmers produce, store, and export agricultural products and grain to the world. To date, USAID has leveraged $250 million in private sector contributions in support of AGRI-Ukraine along with today's additional investment, USAID is seeking an additional $250 million in leveraged support from the private sector, other donors, and foundations.

Russia's relentless attacks have caused more than $6.6 billion in direct damage to the agriculture sector. Farmers have endured 19 months of danger to their livelihoods and families, along with destroyed land and equipment. Russia's disruption of maritime commerce since the beginning of its full-scale invasion, including blockading ports, delaying ship inspections, and, most recently, withdrawing from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, has severely choked the amount of grain Ukraine is able to provide to the world amid a global food crisis.

With the additional $250 million, USAID will continue to expand critical agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation, grain elevators, trans-shipment facilities, and port and border infrastructure. USAID will also expand its support to enable small- and medium-sized agricultural businesses to access the financing and agricultural inputs they need to move forward with their 2023 sowing and harvesting plans. Ukraine's agriculture accounts for 20 percent of Ukraine's gross domestic product, 40 percent of Ukraine's exports, and 17 percent of Ukraine's workforce.

Launched in July 2022, AGRI-Ukraine has reached more than 30 percent of Ukraine's registered farmers with critical inputs like seeds and fertilizer, agricultural and financial services, and storage, USAID stated.

USAID video and transcript:…

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