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Farmers concerned with Russia’s ban on food imports

8 August 2014

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today expressed its concern over Russia’s decision to impose a ban on food imports from Australia, a market that contributes roughly $400 million to Australia’s economy each year.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the year-long ban, introduced yesterday, would affect imports on beef, pork, fruit, vegetables, poultry, fish and dairy products from the EU, US, Australia, Canada and Norway.

NFF President Brent Finlay said the farm sector was concerned about disruptions to export markets due to the fact Australia exports over 60 percent of its agricultural produce, and is inherently export orientated.

“We expect some Australian farmers to directly feel the effects of the sanctions. However, the severity of total impact to the farm sector is still to be determined,” said Mr Finlay.

“Firstly, the Australian Government needs to seek greater clarity on the details of the ban and determine what this may mean for the sectors affected.

“Secondly, we need a strong commitment from the Australian Government to work closely with the farm sector to facilitate the movement of produce to alternative markets, which would have otherwise been exported to Russia.

“As it stands, a key concern for Australia will be around the global marketplace and the flow-on effects to the Australian farm sector, a cornerstone of the Australian economy. As the ban was placed on a number of key western trading partners, we may see increased competition from these players affected by the ban, as they look to sell their products to other markets.

“With more produce potentially coming onto the market, we may see a shift in current supply arrangements and, in the worst case scenario, a drop in prices for Australian produce – ultimately hitting the back pockets of Australian farmers.

“More broadly, this reiterates the NFF’s call to ensure bilateral trade agreements with other nations have commercially meaningful outcomes and the need to further develop relationships with other trading partners during this period,” said Mr Finlay.

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