Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the current conflict in Ukraine is underscoring the need to consider food as part of the country’s national security strategy.

Speaking on Agri-Pulse Newsmakers, Pompeo said his Kansas ties helped him to understand the need to connect American food production capabilities to his diplomatic efforts during the Trump administration.

“When you’d meet with world leaders, they would want to talk about two things that are very connected; they would talk about energy and food,” Pompeo, who was director of the Central Intelligence Agency prior to his time as Secretary of State, told Agri-Pulse. “They wanted the United States to understand their food security needs.”

The intersection of food security and national security has took on new importance as the world reacted to the loss of Ukrainian corn, wheat and other goods that had become mainstays for many needy countries.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has highlighted the global food security challenges that can be caused by geopolitical instability. Ukrainian grain is now flowing through limited channels following a July agreement to open some Odesa ports for shipping. Indiana farmer Kip Tom, who served under the Trump administration as the ambassador to the UN agencies for food and agriculture based in Rome, said ““we are seeing some relief” following some of the first shipments.

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“We remain optimistic,” he said. “Hopefully (the shipping agreement) will remain in place and we’ll continue to move that grain out.”

In addition to Pompeo and Tom, World Food Program USA President and CEO Barron Segar and former Foreign Agricultural Service Administrator Phil Karsting of OFW Law also offer their thoughts on global hunger and the role of U.S. agriculture in addressing it.

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