Russia: U.S. Imports Ban Worries American Farmers

Russia has instituted a U.S. food imports ban and fruits and vegetables from the European Union. Vladimir Putin’s country is the largest importer of American raised chicken in the world. Only a chocolate, champagne, and a few other food items form the United States are not expected to be a part of the food import ban – or reverse economic sanctions as some are deeming Putin’s possible maneuvering.

The Russian import ban was announced by RIA Novosti, a state news agency. There has been no pretense of food safety being the motivation behind the ban of U.S. chickens and other food items from importation to Russia. The move comes after President Vladimir Putin mandated retaliation for economic sanctions imposed by Western nations.

Obama administration officials at the White House said the Russian ban on U.S. imports would backfire and ultimately hurt Russian citizens by causing inflation. “Retaliating against Western companies or countries will deepen Russia’s international isolation, causing further damage to its own economy,” White House National Security Council representative Lucas Magnuson said.

On Wednesday President Putin signed a decree which either order an outright halt or limitation on agricultural products from any country which has imposed economic sanctions on Russia. The leader also ordered government officials to comprise a list of all imports which should be banned for at least a year.

Alexei Alekseyenko, spokesman for the Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Inspection Service (VPIS) had this to say about the Russian imports ban:

“All food products that are being produced in the U.S. and being supplied to Russia will be banned. Fruit and vegetables form EU will be covered by the total ban.”

Alekseyenko also stated that retaliatory action would be “quite substantial” before announcing that United States poultry was included in the ban. In 2013, Russia imported 276,100tons of chicken – about 8 percent of U.S. exports. Russians also purchased about 22 percent of all vegetables exported by the European Union (EU) and 28 percent of fruits form the block of countries, in 2011.

U.S. National Chicken Council and Poultry & Egg Export Council expected the agricultural industry to weather the ban fairly well but felt individual farmers and Russian citizens would suffer. “This is clearly a political move. It is unfortunate that the biggest losers in this will be Russian consumers, who will pay more for their food now as well as in the long run,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said.

Banning products form a specific country based upon political reasons would violate the rules of the World Trade Organization, a group which Russia joined two years ago – but President Putin has not shown any fear of being removed from the organization. The Russian leader also noted in the food import ban decree that he is discussing an increase in agricultural imports from Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, and Argentina today. Brazil is also a major exporter of chickens.

What do you think about Russia banning U.S. food imports?

[Image Via: Reddit]