This photograph taken on July 7, 2022, shows a sunflower next to a wheat field near Kramatosk. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)

In addition to blocking the port of Odessa, Russia has also begun shipping grain across the Black Sea. A ship was stopped in Turkey by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In principle, transport by sea plays an enormous role. Before the war, 90 percent of grain exports went by sea. A ship can transport 50,000 to 70,000 tons, but a freight train only 2000 tons. That makes the dimension clear.

So-called “solidarity lanes” have been set up – i.e. procedures with which food exports from the Ukraine can cross the borders to Poland and Romania more quickly. This enabled 2.17 million tons of grain and sunflower seeds to leave Ukraine in June. However, only 138,000 tons of wheat were among them. The problem is that a large part of these exports remain in the EU and do not go to where they are actually needed – i.e. to countries like Lebanon and Tunisia. On the agricultural markets of Poland and Romania, where there is no shortage of wheat, this in turn causes distortions.

no Traditionally, during the harvest, prices go down. I am quite sure that we will see a significant price increase again in autumn and winter. If you look at the global harvest forecasts, there is a huge shortage.

In principle, farmers are affected everywhere in the EU. Energy requirements are particularly high in areas such as animal husbandry and milk production. Farmers faced significantly higher costs than, for example, in traditional arable farming.

Above all, the EU can try to maintain production, especially for the coming year, and in the best case to increase it a little. Unfortunately she hasn’t done that yet. So far, the Commission does not want to suspend the planned regulations for crop rotation and the set-aside of four percent of the areas for ecological reasons. The policy still in force within the framework of the common agricultural policy, which will take effect from January 1, 2023, will lead to lower production. This applies in particular to grain.

Within the EU Commission, however, it is not the Agriculture Commissioner who is decisive for this question, but Vice President Frans Timmermans, who is also responsible for climate protection. So far, Timmermans wants to stick to the goal of shutting down four percent of the area from next year. Timmermans had originally called for ten percent of the land to be set aside during the negotiations on the reform of EU agricultural policy. Unfortunately, neither Brussels nor Berlin are willing to change anything about the four percent target.

I do not share the thesis that the addition of biofuels is inefficient. If food and fodder crops are used for biofuels, I do not see this as a competition for food security to the extent that Minister of Agriculture Özdemir does. When in doubt, however, I would also say: give priority to food security. But I already see a rethinking there. Farmers are currently benefiting more from offering rapeseed oil for human consumption rather than for gas in the tank.