Russian ban not likely a threat to area farmers

Staff Reporter

Russia’s one-year ban on certain American agricultural imports is unlikely to have a huge impact on Delmarva growers, regional agriculture officials said last week.
“It’s such a global market now that demand or need is satisfied by somebody,” Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee said.
Russia’s ban, announced Aug. 6, includes beef, pork, poultry, fish and seafood products, fruits and nuts, vegetables, some sausages and most prepared foods, according to the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service. Imports from Canada, Australia, Norway and much of western Europe were also included in the ban.
Russia’s ban came after the United States announced a series of sanctions against the nation for its military intervention in Ukraine.
Imports no longer headed to Russia will quickly find another destination, said Colby Ferguson, director of government relations at the Maryland Farm Bureau.
“It’s been a week now, and we haven’t seen prices of chicken plummet,” he said. “[Russia was] first in line. The person who’s second in line will now get more volume. … The people that will most negatively be affected by sanctions will unfortunately be Russian consumers.”
U.S. agricultural imports in Russia have increased from just more than $1 billion in 2006 to nearly $1.4 billion in 2013, peaking at nearly $2 billion in 2008, U.S. Census Bureau data show.  Russia is also the United States’ fourth-largest market for poultry.
It is possible the ban could affect prices here at some point, Kee said.
“I have no idea what’s going to unfold on a geopolitical situation, but all of that can put a downward pressure on price and demand,” he said.
Growers here shouldn’t be too concerned yet, however, Ferguson said.
Goods “will still get exported. It just won’t be going to Russia,” he said. “It’s not a positive, but it’s not a major negative to our region.”