It doesn’t seem like much has changed for the Cargill corporation. The Minnesota-based, agricultural giant has been dubbed by some as “the world’s worst company” and it certainly appears like they are trying to live up to that name. In the past, we have detailed some of their most despicable crimes. Cargill’s reputation of deforestation, child labor and toxic waste spills unfortunately spans decades. Now, their latest act is equally as disheartening. Despite the ongoing war in Ukraine, Cargill has continued to trade in the Russian grain market. Their involvement they claim is a necessary evil but if Cargill’s past is any indication of the truth, it’s more likely they are just taking advantage of the turmoil.
The war has crippled Ukraine’s once thriving agricultural sector. Farmers currently work under the threat of bombs, fearful of impending attacks. Some have had what little crops they have produced stolen by Russian soldiers. Granted, it is a moot point. What crop doesn’t get taken will be left to rot. Presently, over 20 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain sits in silos across the country, unable to be shipped. Russia has blocked ports along the Black Sea, all but decimating Ukraine’s trading capabilities. Not surprisingly though, Russia’s grain exports have flourished. With their key competitor knocked out of commission, Russia saw an 18% rise in wheat exports. Not only are the Russians selling more grain, they are also selling it at a higher price. In fact, it’s estimated that the Russian Treasury has collected $1.9 billion in wheat export taxes this season. And don’t forget, that is despite all the sanctions they have faced since the start of the war.
Those sanctions certainly haven’t deterred Cargill from continuing to do business with Russia. In a recent statement, Cargill justified their continued involvement in the Russia grain market. “This region plays a significant role in our global food system and is a critical source for key ingredients in basic staples like bread, infant formula, and cereal. Food is a basic human right and should never be used as a weapon,” the statement read. Coming from Cargill it seems a bit ironic. Cargill is essentially permitting Russia to use food as a weapon. The Kremlin are taking control of the world’s wheat market, profiting from a crisis they created. In the process, they have put millions of people at risk of starvation and Cargill wants to claim that this is all for the greater good?
Sadly, Cargill is not the only agricultural company still doing business in Russia. Viterra and General Mills are too. Both companies have made similar claims to Cargill, that it is an unfortunate necessity. And it likely doesn’t stop there. Rumor has it that Bunge is trading Russian grain as well. It is disappointing news to say the least. The world’s top grain companies shouldn’t find themselves involved in this situation and yet here we are. Enough is Enough. It is time to take a stand against companies that act so unethically.