A Russian import ban on agricultural goods from the U.S. and several other countries will be an "opportunity" for Russian farmers, Russia's Minister of Agriculture Nikolai Fyodorov said Thursday.
Fyodorov, along with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, fielded questions from reporters on the import ban and other regulations the country has enacted in response to sanctions declared by the European Union, the U.S., Australia, Canada and Norway.
President Vladimir Putin first announced the import ban Wednesday via an executive order, which Medvedev expanded upon Thursday, noting that beef, pork, fruits and vegetables, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy imports from the five countries in question will not be permitted for the next 12 months.
Grains were not included on the list, though Fyodorov said it may be subject to "certain changes."
"The way that I see it and understand our leadership’s vision of the situation, it won’t change in the near future most likely, at least it won’t expand," he said, according to a read-out of the conference provided by the Russian government. Fyodorov said certain items may be removed from the list, however.
Though the import ban will cut off certain products, Fyodorov said the situation should be viewed as an opportunity to expand the country's ag sector to make it more competitive.
"We will replace imports from the EU, the United States, and Canada with imports from our other partners. And we are going to do it not just for half a year or a year, but I think that we’ll be able to find long-term partners elsewhere," he said, suggesting import expansion from the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America.
Fyodorov said meat supplies will likely come from Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, and Belarus.
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In the U.S., the National Chicken Council this week said it did not expect the Russian ban to have a great impact on the industry, due to dwindling chicken export volumes.
The U.S. exported about 267,000 metric tons of chicken to Russia valued at $303 million in 2013, though Russia currently accounts for only about 7% of total U.S. poultry export volume.
"The biggest impact, we believe, will be on Russian citizens who will be burdened by higher prices for all food products, especially meat and poultry," the NCC statement said. "The price of poultry in Russia is already rising and has recently been increasing at a rate of 2% to 3% per week."