SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s now been more than a year and a half since Russia Invaded Ukraine. The conflict continues between two of the world’s largest agricultural producers with some impact in the U.S.

“I feel like what Putin has done in Russia has largely been something that is in the form of weaponizing food, in the overall global sphere,” South Dakota Trade President & CEO Luke Lindberg said. 

Ukraine is one of the world’s top producers and exporters of grains and sunflower seed oil; it’s one of the first industries Russia attacked in the invasion.

“Early on in the war, we knew they were going to shut down the Black Sea,” Kip Tom, the former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. for Food and Agriculture, said. 

Tom has worked closely on a plan to help get Ukraine’s ag exports out to northern Africa during the war.

“Today that doesn’t even work. Putin has went as far as hitting the ports on the Danube River on the Ukrainian side,” Tom said.

It’s had a major impact on ag markets across the globe, not only from fewer Ukrainian exports but also the slowdown on trade with Russia.

“We soon discovered because of the Ukrainian war, how reliant we were on the globalization to supply the U.S. ag production system with the critical inputs we need to produce crops,” Tom said.

“We import the majority of our fertilizer: nitrogen, phosphorus and potash, almost all of that is imported,” Parker farmer Walt Bones said.

Russia is the world’s largest exporter of fertilizer, and when it invaded Ukraine in early 2022, prices in KELOLAND soared.

“The price of fertilizer has just exploded in the last couple two-three years. It’s come down a little bit from the peak, but much higher than it was,” Bones said.

Bones says his family farm near Parker has felt the impact, but thanks to higher prices for corn and soybeans, they’ve been able to make up for the higher costs of fertilizer. But he’d like to see America’s farmers help fill more of the gap made by the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“Look at Africa; you look at other countries that the Ukraine supplied a majority of their food stocks to. Those governments are going to have to make a choice. Are they going to go somewhere else or let their people starve?” Bones said.

Tom says the U.S. has a large amount of wheat available to export but isn’t competitive in the market because of increased freight and logistics costs.

“Russia, the leading wheat exporter in the world, is filling more of that gap than anyone else. Unfortunately, that’s going to benefit Putin’s war,” Tom said.