CHICAGO, May 12 – U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday blamed Russia’s war on Ukraine for rising food prices around the world and visited a family farm in Illinois where he pledged to support the country’s peasants as they sought to fill a shortage of goods.
Biden said American farmers helped draw Americans to the COVID-19 epidemic and it is now a Ukrainian problem. “You are the backbone of freedom,” he said, following a visit to the 800-hectare (320-hectare) family farm at Jeff and Gina O’Connor’s Kankakee.
“Right now, America is fighting on both sides. At home, inflation and rising prices. Abroad, it helps the people of Ukraine to defend democracy and feed those who remain hungry around the world because of Russian violence,” Biden said.
The visit comes as the White House struggles to curb inflation in many areas, from petrol to food. U.S. petrol prices hit a record high on Tuesday, and Russia’s attack on Ukraine in late February has worsened the perception of food prices.
The White House announced actions Wednesday aimed at helping American farmers increase food production and lower food prices, which include double funding for domestic fertilizer production and increased technical assistance for nutrient management tools.
Managers will also increase the number of districts eligible for double planting insurance to plant a second crop in the same area in the same year, the White House said.
Biden announced this week that fighting inflation is a priority for executives, echoing repeated national surveys that show Americans see it as a major concern.
Wednesday’s new data showed that US consumer prices rose slightly, but still significantly higher, the pace. The Department of Labor said prices in the whole economy increased by 8.3% in the 12 months to April. Individual food prices gained 9.4% over the period.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization recently reported that food prices reached a record in February and again in March, building on previous prices driven by COVID. Russia and Ukraine account for about a third of the world’s wheat and barley production, as well as two-thirds of the sunflower oil exported for cooking.
While in Illinois, Biden also visited Chicago where he thanked the unions for their support and praised his record of job creation for a throng of 3,500 union members from across the United States and Canada at a conference hosted by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
“You brought me to the dance, and I mean what,” said Biden, who called himself the president who supported the union and praised the middle class, who said he built America, because of the union’s support. “Look, my people, our economy has moved from being in a state of flux,” he said.
Biden also defended his financial incentive during the violence by criticizing inflation. “What did the MAGA crowd want to do? Forget it,” he said, adding to his recent attack on the Republican organization launched by former President Donald Trump.
But the President took a bigger voice in Chicago’s fundraising later in the evening, acknowledging that rising prices would hamper his party’s efforts to defeat Trumpism.
“It will be difficult because inflation will threaten a living hell for everyone.”