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Saturday February 13th, 2016 8:02AM

Ag commissioner says Russian ban on US food won't be severe

By B.J. Williams News Director
ATLANTA - Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said his staff was working Thursday to determine just how significant the impact on Georgia farmers might be from a Russian ban on U.S. food products. Of concern to Georgia, said Black, are poultry products, as well as peanuts and pecans.<br /> <br /> In an interview for WDUN's Afternoon News Wrap, Black said Georgia exported about $45 million worth of broiler products to Russia in 2013.<br /> <br /> While that number is significant, Black said it represents a smaller percentage of overseas poultry exports than 20 years ago, when Georgia poultry exports were much more concentrated in the Russian market.<br /> <br /> What Georgia poultry farmers will have to do, said Black, is find other overseas markets for specific cuts of poultry.<br /> <br /> "We're kind of locked in in America to white meat," said Black. "So,the leg quarters [is where we'll] have to find another marketplace. In Russia, that's about 99-percent of what we send there."<br /> <br /> "I'm sure our poultry professionals are busy right now trying to find another home for this product that has pretty good appeal worldwide." <br /> <br /> Some poultry producers say Russia's decision won't lead to a glut of the product because other countries are clamoring for inexpensive meat. (See separate story. Link below.)<br /> <br /> Plus, Black said he thinks the Russian consumers will not be happy with the ban on American food products.<br /> <br /> "They've kind of grown accustomed to a more diverse offering of grocery and food products," said Black. <br /> <br /> Black pointed out that nuts also are on the list of banned products and that, too, could impact Georgia growers.<br /> <br /> "Certainly we lead the nation in production of peanuts and pecans," said Black. He said his staff was working Thursday afternoon to determine how those growers might be impacted.<br /> <br /> Black acknowledged that while the ban is expected to be temporary - reportedly about a year - he knows any interruption in exports is concerning to Georgia farmers.<br /> <br /> "We live in challenging times," said Black. "We'll all have to wait and see...hopefully this does not escalate. Let's hope that we'll return soon to some semblance of normalcy."<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, Washington dismissed Moscow's ban as trivial to the U.S. but destructive to Russia's own population.<br /> <br /> "What the Russians have done here is limit the Russian people's access to food," said David Cohen, the U.S. Treasury undersecretary in charge of economic sanctions. He said the U.S. is ready to impose more sanctions against Russia if it doesn't de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine.<br /> <br /> (The Associated Press contributed to this story.)<br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
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