U.S. Rep. Ron Estes, R-Kansas, says of all of his concerns about Ukrainian agriculture, the country’s ability to plant crops is what matters most.
Estes was a keynote speaker at the Kansas Grain and Feed Association annual meeting held April 12 in Wichita.
“Right now, I’m probably most concerned about planting season in Ukraine,” said Estes.
While the bulk of the violence is occurring in the eastern part of Ukraine, and that is an area he describes as “a little bit more hilly,” he was not certain how many crops were planted in that region.
Since that’s where most of the fighting is taking place, however, “there’s not going to be a chance to plant.”
“They may still have some options to have a crop in parts of the country this year,” he added.
"That’s important for two reasons, and one is just the rising prices and the impact of grocery prices for everybody. But I’m also thinking about particularly Africa and the Middle East. Ukraine is the breadbasket for that area.”
He also said he expects the already high prices of fertilizer to further increase because of the conflict and the restrictions on exports from the Ukraine region.
In addition to planting of Ukrainian crops and the high price of fertilizer, Estes also expressed his concerns with trade and the apparent attitude that the Biden administration seems to have regarding trade issues.
“I’ve really been disappointed with the administration. When they came in in January of last year, they talked about doing the right thing. They talked about continuing the effort with China, and to hold China’s feet to the fire following the Phase 1 deal, and continuing negotiations with the U.K. and with Kenya in terms of free trade agreements,” said Estes, a member of the Ways and Means Committee.
“It’s just not happening. I don’t know if it’s the White House is not going to do it, or if its they are so distracted with other things.”
Estes, a former Kansas state treasurer, has represented the state’s fourth congressional district since 2017. At that time, he won a special election to fill the seat being vacated by Mike Pompeo, who went on to serve as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and later as the Secretary of State during the Trump administration.