Russia targets U.S. farm products with retaliatory sanctions

By Daniel Enoch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Aug. 6, 2014 -- Russia intends to ban all U.S. agricultural products, which last year totaled about $1.2 billion, as well as fruits and nuts from the European Union, in retaliation for sanctions imposed on Moscow over the Ukrainian crisis, the country's agricultural watchdog said.

A list of affected products will be published on Thursday, Aleksey Alekseyenko, the assistant to the head of Rosselkhoznadzor, told the RIA Novosti news agency. The bans are to last for a year, he said.

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The U.S. poultry industry, which shipped products worth about $300 million to Russia last year could be among biggest loser. Tree nuts were the second biggest export category ($170 million), followed by soybeans ($160 million.)

American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to reconsider the bans.

“Sanctions and bans like the one proposed by President Putin serve only to hurt the Russian people by limiting their access to the food and products they need and want,” Gaesser said in a news release.

While Russia is a key trading partner for U.S. agriculture, Gaesser said it is only one of hundreds of customers worldwide. “By limiting his people's access to American soybeans and other products, he does a great disservice to his Russian countrymen and women,” Gaesser said.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said Putin's action “was clearly a political move” and that the biggest losers will be Russian consumers who will end up paying for their food.

“America's farmers and ranchers would have been more surprised if Russia's leaders had not announced bans and restrictions on food and agricultural imports,” Stallman said. “They do so regularly for seemingly small reasons and now they have to deal with sanctions imposed by our nation and others.”

Alekseyenko said Russia's sanctions on U.S. and EU food imports will be “quite substantial.” He also said that many countries that did not sanction Moscow are ready to increase their exports of similar products to Russia.

Putin is responding to several rounds of sanctions imposed by the U.S. and EU on Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine, mostly targeting Russia's financial, energy, and defense sectors.

In late July, the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council began advising its members to “extend due diligence” with shipments to Russia, after Moscow began threatening to suspend imports, ostensibly because of disease concerns.

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