About 30 years ago, I was lucky to take a trip across Ukraine as part of a college history course.  We visited Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia.  We visited former German towns in southeastern Ukraine where my ancestors farmed before leaving for the Kansas Great Plains in the 1870s. Ukraine was a very poor country during my visit, just emerging from Soviet control. But seeing the thousands of acres of open farm fields, I knew this country would someday rise to prosperity.  

Like you, I am devasted by what I see on the news. We may want to look away, but we all must face the reality that “the world we now live in is not the one we knew before.” (German Chancellor Olaf Scholz).

It took western governments who must defend their own citizens a few hours to realize that the world had changed with the invasion, resulting in very quick, crippling economic sanctions against Russia.   

It took big tech a couple days to realize the new reality caused by Russia’s invasion.  Apple, Google, Meta and others all pulled out of Russia.

Multinational food corporations—McDonalds, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, etc.—have been slower to wake up to this new reality. Admittedly, I recognize they face the quandary of wondering whether leaving Russia results in punishment of ordinary citizens, many who likely do not understand, support, or even know about the Ukraine invasion. Ultimately, the moral price of staying in Russia outweighs the economic price.

Farm equipment manufacturers operating in Russia have been slower to respond, at least publicly.  Many have invested billions into building farm equipment in Russian factories. Russian threats to nationalize any factories from corporations suspending operations must be causing pause. As the civilian deaths mount in Ukraine, the situation will become untenable. They will leave too, I think, once they fully confront this reality.  (John Deere already stopped shipping new equipment into Russia). 

Accepting this new reality is hard. Much has already been written about effects in commodity, fertilizer, and trade markets. Ag tech, too, will see the effects of the war in Ukraine. Gone are the days of having solutions look for problems to solve. Instead, ag tech must immediately shift to focus on increasing global food production and boosting domestic energy sources. These are the priorities of the new world reality.

I hope to return one day to see Ukraine and see it once again as the breadbasket of Europe. But for now, more than anything, I hope that the senseless killing and displacement of innocent people comes to an end.