WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2016 – Russia says it will ban U.S. corn and soybeans beginning next week after the country’s inspectors said they confirmed contamination in some shipments last month.

The restrictions will begin February 15 after detections of dry rot in corn shipments, and weed seeds and bacterial contamination in soybeans, according to a member of the Russian government. Alesky Alekseenko, a spokesman for Rosselkhoznadzor, the Russian government’s sanitary and phytosanitary regulatory arm, said the U.S. products “pose a real threat to Russia” and the country “reserve(s) the right” to implement a temporary ban.  

USDA Press Secretary Cathy Cochran said USDA was “extremely disappointed” in the Russian government’s “precipitous action.”

“The U.S. government has been attempting to work with Russian authorities to address their perceived concerns about U.S. popcorn and soybean imports, including a high-level technical call with Russian authorities on Feb. 9,” she said in a statement. “The United States exports soybeans, corn and popcorn to countries around the world.  It is unfortunate that at a time when Russian consumers are facing double-digit inflation, the Russian market would be deprived of a major supplier of safe corn and soybeans.”

USDA statistics indicate Russia is not a major customer for U.S. corn.

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U.S. grains were one of the few agricultural goods Russia spared in an August 2014 ban on U.S. food products in retaliation for sanctions against Russia related to its Ukraine incursion. The ban included meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, and dairy products from the U.S., EU, Canada and Australia and was supposed to last for a year. Russia later extended the ban to August 2016.


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