India on Saturday banned wheat exports in an effort to protect its domestic supply, a move that drew the criticism of the U.S. and its fellow G7 member countries, says U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Wheat prices in the U.S. and globally are high, making the grain especially costly for some of the poorest nations. Earlier this year, economists at the USDA had been counting on forecasts for increased Indian exports to counter global scarcity – especially at a time when Ukrainian exports are all but cut off because of the Russian invasion – but extreme heat has been taking a toll on India’s expected yields.

“The crop in India is down as heatwaves have damaged yields in prominent northern growing states,” USDA’s FAS said in an analysis released this week. “European Union production is forecast modestly lower from the previous year. China, the second-largest global producer, is also expecting a slightly smaller harvest.”

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India had been forecast to export 10 million metric tons of wheat in the 2022-23 marketing year, but that forecast has been dropped to 8 million tons, according to the FAS analysis.

India, in a government notice published Saturday, said it would allow exports that had already been arranged before the decree was made official Friday.

Speaking to Agri-Pulse from a G7 summit in Germany this weekend, Vilsack said the U.S. and its G7 partners understand the India ban is “exactly the wrong thing to do at this point because it really does create additional disruption of the market and can potentially increase prices, which make food inflation and availability significantly worse than they already are. I sincerely hope that India reconsiders that ill-advised decision.”

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