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on August 6, 2010

Russian grain export ban highlights need for domestic supply

Climate and trade issues bring food security center stage

Russia’s temporary export ban on grain emphasizes the need to maintain productive agriculture in home markets, said the United Kingdom's National Farmers' Union (NFU).

“Wheat prices are up by 70% on prices in June this year, rising 11% on Thursday, August 5 alone," said NFU combinable crops board Chairman Ian Backhouse. "Heavy rain is being blamed for wiping out the wheat crop in Canada and today’s announcement from Russia comes after the worst drought in more than a hundred years, which has devastated crops both there and in the Ukraine.”

Backhouse said it was impossible to speculate on the impact that the dramatic market movement would have, and added that it served to show how important it was to maintain and develop home production capacity in grain when faced with unpredictable supply from overseas.

“Events in this past week, resulting in extreme market movements, underline the importance of a vibrant domestic grain industry and a strong European agricultural policy that focuses on delivering a more productive, competitive sector to ensure food security both at home and abroad,” said Backhouse.

Drought and wildfires are thought to have devastated more than a third of the cultivable land in Russia, and the export ban is due to start on August 15.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has described the move as “expedient” to keep domestic prices low and to maintain cattle numbers. 

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