NEW YORK (AP):
CLAIM: President Joe Biden is warning Americans to prepare for a food shortage in 2023 amid “rising COVID numbers” and an “immigrant influx”.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Biden has made no such statement recently. In March 2022, he was asked about what the US would do in response to wheat shortages expected to impact many countries due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the month before. Biden in response said food shortages “would be real” and discussed plans to disseminate more food quickly.
THE FACTS: Social media users are falsely claiming that the president is raising the alarm about an imminent food shortage.
“Biden warns to prepare for a food shortage amist rising COVID numbers & immigrant influx,” reads the text on a widely-shared video that originated on TikTok, misspelling “amidst.”
As of Wednesday, the video had received approximately 293,900 views on TikTok and one Instagram post that shared the clip had received more than 3,700 likes.
But Biden has not recently warned that a food shortage is on the horizon.
The White House, which did not immediately return a request for comment, has also not released any statements or other communications in which Biden makes such a warning. A search of media reports on Google News and research database LexisNexis did not find any reporting matching the claim.
However, a clip of Biden discussing wheat shortages expected to result from the Russia-Ukraine war more than a year ago circulated widely on TikTok earlier this month, presented as if it was recent.
The clip is from a press conference on March 24, 2022, in Brussels, following a meeting with NATO allies. Russia invaded Ukraine the month prior, inciting international sanctions.
Asked whether food shortages had been discussed at the meeting, Biden replied: “Yes, we did talk about food shortages. And it’s going to be real.”
“The price of these sanctions is not just imposed upon Russia. It’s imposed upon an awful lot of countries as well, including European countries, and our country as well. Because both Russia and Ukraine have been the breadbasket of Europe in terms of wheat, for example,” he said.
Biden added that there had been discussions about how the US and Canada, both major producers of wheat, “could increase and disseminate more rapidly food” and how the allies had discussed “urging all the European countries and everyone else to end trade restrictions on — on sending — limitations on sending food abroad.”
Concerns about the war’s impact on global access to food have continued since the invasion nearly two years ago, especially for nations in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia where millions are struggling with hunger. About three months after Biden’s press conference, the war was preventing some 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain from reaching those areas.
Baseless claims that the US is facing an impending food shortage have been circulating online for many months.
Last year, some online falsely claimed that fires at food processing plants in the US were a nefarious plot to create shortages.
An outbreak of bird flu that caused US egg prices in grocery stores to spike earlier this year sparked conspiracy theories in February that chicken feed companies had altered their products to stop backyard hens from laying eggs and drive up demand for commercial eggs.
The Biden administration did announce last week that it will grant temporary legal status to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who are already in the country, a designation for which they must apply. There has also been a recent rise in COVID-19 hospital admissions — there were 19,674 the week ending Sept. 16. But Biden has not tied either of these events to food shortages.