Food inflation is fueling food insecurity

Q&A: Food inflation is fueling food insecurity

With US Senator Chuck Grassley

Q: Are you concerned about food insecurity in 2022 and beyond?

a: During the COVID-19 pandemic, more Americans experienced food insecurity as unemployment and empty store shelves led to uncertainty around kitchen tables in homes across the country. Parents struggled to put food on the table and were worried about sending their children to bed hungry. According to the USDA, more than 38 million people in the United States were living in food-insecure households in 2020. As COVID-19 spreads across the country, Congress has boosted spending on food pantries and food assistance programs to help Americans who have lost their jobs . their families. Worked to expand flexibility in the USDA Summer Food Service Program To maximize its usefulness during the summer months when children are not on the school premises. When I visited the food banks in Pocahontas and Waterloo, I saw a neighbor helping the neighbor to help hungry families in times of need. Today, more Americans are turning to local food banks to feed their families as inflation outstrips their wages.

Food insecurity looms large and could affect more people due to skyrocketing fuel and food prices and war-torn Ukraine. The World Food Price Index, which tracks the prices of globally traded food commodities, reached its highest point this spring since records began in 1990. Since last June, the producer price index here in the United States has risen 11.3 percent. Prices paid by US consumers rose by 9.1 percent, the fastest rate since November 1981. The main cause of inflation is rising energy costs. Families get hitched from week to week at the fuel pump and the grocery store. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices for grain, bread and chicken rose 14.2 percent, 10.8 percent and 17.3 percent year on year. Rising fuel costs, especially diesel, are driving up food prices on the shelves. Growing input costs for farmers to grow food, especially fertilizer and diesel fuel, contribute to higher prices for farm-to-fork food. Truck drivers are paying more than double to fill their tanks and deliver food to stores and restaurants across the country.

Q: What are you doing to help reduce costs and ease supply shortages?

a: I drive the fees to help cut costs at the grocery store. The Big Four Packers control more than 85% of the market and use anti-competitive tactics to shut down small producers. That means independent farmers in Iowa are forced to sell their cattle at filthy cheap prices, and consumers pay through the nose for beef in restaurants and grocery stores. This is happening at a time when the Big Four companies are making record profits. Sysco, the largest food distributor in the United States, recently filed a lawsuit against these packers, alleging price fixing. They claim that these packers deliberately underestimated the number of cows slaughtered to inflate the beef prices families are forced to pay. We must maintain a cash market for livestock producers and increase competition. Two bipartisan bills that sailed through the Senate Agriculture Committee He will do just that.

In July, I joined state farm lawmakers urging the Biden administration To waive fertilizer import duties from Morocco and Trinidad and Tobago. They export phosphate fertilizers subject to import tariffs and this doubles the inflationary prices of the main components to get the crops in the land. The high cost of fertilizer forces farmers to apply lower than recommended nutrient rates to the soil. It will affect productivity, cause some farmers to switch to alternative crops, disrupt a reliable supply of staple foods and increase food insecurity in America and around the world. The competitive price of fertilizers is critical to food security, national security and national defense. Moreover, import duties are exacerbating the vulnerability of the global food supply to the unjustified Russian invasion. Ukraine is a major exporter of agricultural commodities and is often referred to as the breadbasket of Europe and a major supplier of grain throughout the Middle East and Africa. Ukraine’s war zone has disrupted the growing season, and as the war drags on, its ports are under siege, and Russia has closed sea lanes. Rising food and fuel prices coupled with the ongoing war in Ukraine are likely to create a perfect storm of social unrest, riots and famine in the developing world.

Here in Iowa, food banks and mobile food pantries are experiencing a growing need as food costs continue to rise. The Food Bank of Iowa serves 55 of our 99 counties and partners with volunteers and community businesses to fill local stores and serve hungry neighbors. It reported serving the largest number of individuals in its 40-year history in May. Food stores provided by River Bend Food Bank report that they are feeling the pinch as donations dwindle with less food on store shelves available for donation. As the cost of fresh fruit, meat and eggs continues to rise, cash donations do not extend much to buying food and local pantries are being challenged to help keep families with children, seniors and veterans free from hunger in their communities. In Washington, I will continue to fight inflation so that wages at the pumps and the groceries are not consumed. I’m also fighting tax increases so Iowans can keep more of their hard-earned money to make ends meet. Iowa citizens looking for more information on local food stores can call 211. Or visit https://www.iowafba.org/partner-food-banks.

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