President Joe Biden toured an Illinois farm Wednesday to call for new investments and agricultural policies that he said would help blunt the impact of inflation amid Russia’s war on Ukraine.
‘You’re like the backbone of freedom,’ Biden told a crowd of about 100 farmers and other supporters in Kankakee as he touted his plans to boost domestic food production.
Speaking just hours after new data showed the price of groceries in the US jumped 10.8 percent in the past year, the most since 1980, Biden repeatedly tied soaring inflation to the war in Ukraine.
‘Right now America’s fighting on two fronts: At home it’s inflation and rising prices. Abroad it’s helping Ukrainians defend their democracy and feeding those who are left hungry around the world,’ said Biden.
President Joe Biden toured an Illinois farm Wednesday to call for new investments and agricultural policies that he said would help blunt the impact of inflation
Jeff and Gina O’Connor, owners of O’Connor Farms, speak with President Joe Biden, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and US Representative Robin Kelly on Wednesday
Inflation in the US has fallen slightly from the four-decade high it reached in March
Biden spoke soon after the latest inflation report showed that consumer prices jumped 8.3 percent in April from a year ago — down slightly from the prior month’s rate but still near a four-decade high.
The report showed that US food prices are rising at a dizzying pace, with the index for all food up 9.4 percent from last year, the largest 12-month increase since 1981.
‘Putin’s war has cut off crucial sources of food,’ Biden said. He pointed to 20 million tons of grain stuck in Ukrainian silos.
Ukraine and Russia are both top grain exporters.
‘Guess what? Those tons don’t get to market an awful lot of people in Africa are going to starve to death,’ said Biden.
He also brought up a global shortage in fertilizer also tied to the war.
He met with farmers Jeff O’Connor, who pushed for programs that would expand federal loan programs for farmers who ‘double plant’ as among other holes in the system.
‘Pretty damn big holes,’ Biden said.
President Joe Biden listens as he stands with O’Connor Farms owners Jeff O’Connor, left, and Gina O’Connor, second from right, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, right
Biden wore shirtsleeves as he toured the farm and spoke to supporters about agriculture
President Joe Biden walks with O’Connor Farms owners Jeff O’Connor and Gina O’Connor at their farm on Wednesday in Kankakee, Illinois
He touted the infrastructure law, which Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who traveled with him from Washington, said would trim export costs for farmers.
‘We have no farmers in our family,’ Biden told O’Connor, who showed the president his young wheat fields.
O’Connor asked the president how he thought the wheat was doing. It looks ‘pretty healthy to me. How do you feel about it?’ Biden asked.
It turns out it was a bit ‘behind’ for maturity.
Biden wore shirtsleeves as he toured the farm and spoke to supporters about agriculture.
He noted that two Illinois senators, Democrats Richard Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, weren’t in attendance because ‘there’s a vote today in the United States Senate and they’re unable to be here.’
But he didn’t mention the topic of the Senate vote, which regards codifying protections for abortion in federal law, as the Supreme Court prepares to strike down Roe v Wade.
Biden delivers remarks during a visit to O’Connor Farm in Kankakee, Illinois, on Wednesday
President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to O’Connor Farms, Wednesday
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, right, speaks as President Joe Biden stands with Jeff O’Connor, owner of O’Connor Farms, during a visit to O’Connor Farms, Wednesday
Biden told farmers ‘you feed the world, and we’re seeing with Putin’s war in Ukraine, you’re like the backbone of freedom.’
He called American farmers the ‘breadbasket of democracy’ and included a few digs the cosmopolitan set.
’Every investment banker can leave their job and [if] every farmer left we’d all starve to death,’ said Biden, who was also scheduled to appear at a fundraiser in Chicago later on Wednesday.
He also talked up his own career tending to rural interests in his home state of Delaware.
‘We have more chickens than there are Americans. More boilers,’ Biden said, speaking of the output of the Delmarva Peninsula that includes Maryland and Virginia.
‘Let me put it this way. If I didn’t know something about farms, I’d have been a United States senator for six years, not 36 years,’ he said.
Biden touts slight dip in inflation rate to 8.3% as ‘heartening’ – but groceries jump 10.8% in their fastest increase since 1980
By Keith Griffith for DailyMail.com
Inflation in the US hit 8.3 percent in April, falling slightly from the four-decade high it reached in March and breaking a streak of seven consecutive monthly increases in the annual rate of price increases.
The latest inflation report marks a mixed bag of news for consumers, showing that grocery prices are rising at their fastest annual rate in 42 years and flashing other signals that inflation is becoming more entrenched.
Still, President Joe Biden in a statement touted the dip in the annual ‘headline’ inflation number — which seems to be dropping mostly because prices began soaring a year ago, making the basis for comparison higher.
‘While it is heartening to see that annual inflation moderated in April, the fact remains that inflation is unacceptably high,’ said Biden. ‘As I said yesterday, inflation is a challenge for families across the country and bringing it down is my top economic priority.’
Inflation began to soar in April 2021, meaning that annual increases are now starting from a higher base level
The Labor Department’s report on Wednesday said that the consumer price index increased 0.3 percent in April from the month before, for a 8.3 percent gain from a year ago, compared to March’s 8.5 percent increase.
The food index increased 9.4 percent from last year, the largest 12-month increase since 1981, and the energy index soared 30.3 percent from a year ago.
Excluding volatile food and energy prices, so-called ‘core’ inflation hit 6.3 percent in the 12 months ending in April, down slightly from March’s annual rate of 6.5 percent.
However, in a troubling sign inflation is becoming more entrenched, core prices jumped 0.6 percent from March to April – twice the 0.3 percent rise from February to March. Those increases were fueled by spiking prices for airline tickets, hotel rooms and new cars. Rental costs also rose sharply.
Over the past year, grocery prices have shot up 10.8 percent, the largest such year-over-year increase since 1980. Food away from home was up 7.2 percent from a year ago.
The cost of a gallon of gas fell 6.1 percent in April but is still up nearly 44 percent from a year ago.
President Joe Biden in a statement touted the dip in the annual ‘headline’ inflation number — which seems to be dropping mostly because prices began soaring a year ago, making the basis for comparison higher
Biden’s full statement on April inflation rate
‘While it is heartening to see that annual inflation moderated in April, the fact remains that inflation is unacceptably high. As I said yesterday, inflation is a challenge for families across the country and bringing it down is my top economic priority.
‘This starts with the Federal Reserve, which plays a primary role in fighting inflation in our country. I thank the Senate for confirming Dr. Lisa Cook to the Board of Governors last night, and urge the Senate to confirm my remaining nominees without delay. While I will never interfere with the Fed’s independence, I believe we have built a strong economy and a strong labor market, and I agree with what Chairman Powell said last week that the number one threat to that strength – is inflation. I am confident the Fed will do its job with that in mind.
‘Beyond the Fed, my inflation plan is focused on lowering the costs that families face and lowering the federal deficit. Already this week, my Administration has announced new steps in partnership with the private sector to lower the price of high speed internet for tens of millions of Americans. And, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the federal budget deficit in the first seven months of this fiscal year fell by $1.5 trillion—putting us on track for the most deficit reduction in any year on record. The CBO also confirmed that the budget deficit so far this year is lower than it was during the same period in 2019, before the pandemic began. Today, I am traveling to Illinois to speak with farmers about more we can do to lower their costs and help them produce more, lowering the price of food for Americans and around the world. All of this is progress, but the fight against global supply chain issues related to the pandemic and Putin’s price hike will continue every day.
‘Congressional Republicans talk about inflation, but their only plan is to raise taxes on working families, taking even more money out of their pockets. If they are serious about inflation, they should send me the bipartisan innovation bill to bolster our supply chains and make more in America, along with legislation that cuts costs and the cuts the deficit, reducing families’ prescription drug and utility bills and restoring fairness to our tax code. We’ve made enormous progress in getting our economy back on track, and these measures would help us sustain this progress and bring prices down for families.’
And so far in May, prices at the gas pump have shot back up. Nationally, the average for a gallon of gas was at a record high of $4.40 on Wednesday, according to AAA.
The high price of oil is the main factor. A barrel of U.S. benchmark crude sold for around $100 a barrel Tuesday. Gas had fallen to about $4.10 a gallon in April, after reaching its prior record high of $4.32 in March.
Though it remains well elevated over the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target rate, April’s annual inflation reading marks a sign of relief from the prior month, and will likely be touted as progress by Biden.
Experts say that annual inflation eased as energy prices grew at a more modest pace in April — though that effect could prove short-lived, after US gasoline prices hit a new high this week.
‘April also marks a full year since prices started to dramatically increase, meaning that it’s going to become more and more difficult for 12-month inflation to remain as elevated as it was in March,’ noted John Leer, Morning Consult Chief Economist.
Inflation has become a top political threat to Biden and congressional Democrats as the crucial November midterm elections draw closer. Small business owners now say in surveys that it’s their primary economic concern, too.
In a statement responding to the April inflation report, Biden said he had confidence in the Federal Reserve to fight inflation, and touted his policies.
‘Beyond the Fed, my inflation plan is focused on lowering the costs that families face and lowering the federal deficit,’ he said, citing a program to reduce the cost of high speed internet.
‘Congressional Republicans talk about inflation, but their only plan is to raise taxes on working families, taking even more money out of their pockets,’ he added.
Biden sought to take the initiative Tuesday and declared inflation ‘the No. 1 problem facing families today’ and ‘my top domestic priority.’
‘I know you gotta be frustrated. I can taste it,’ Biden said, speaking to the country from the White House. ‘I think our policies have helped, not hurt.’
Biden blamed chronic supply chain snarls related to the swift economic rebound from the pandemic, as well as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, for igniting inflation.
He said his administration will help ease price increases by shrinking the government’s budget deficit and by fostering competition in industries, like meatpacking, that are dominated by a few industry giants.
Republicans argue that Biden’s $1.9 trillion spending package last March overheated the economy by flooding it with stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment aid and child tax credit payments.
‘Inflation is out of control with another gas price record hit today, yet Biden continues to lie to Americans and refuses to take responsibility for his failed agenda,’ said Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel in a statement responding to the latest report.
‘Biden and Democrats’ reckless spending created the highest inflation in 40 years, and Americans are paying the price,’ she added. ‘Skyrocketing prices, Biden’s gas hike, and the deteriorating economy are on the ballot in November, and voters know Biden and Democrats are to blame.’