- Associated Press - Thursday, August 7, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A Russian ban on food imports from the West isn’t likely to have a direct impact on North Dakota’s large pulse crop and wheat industries, officials said Thursday.

Russia doesn’t import any wheat, so the ban won’t directly affect North Dakota farmers who lead the nation in producing spring wheat and durum wheat, state Wheat Commission Marketing Director Jim Peterson said. North Dakota produces nearly half of the country’s spring wheat, which is used for bread products, and durum wheat, which is used for pasta.

“It’s going to be other ag commodities where (the ban) will have more impact,” Peterson said.

Russia banned most food imports from the West on Thursday in retaliation for sanctions over Ukraine. The U.S. and the European Union have accused Russia of fomenting tensions in eastern Ukraine by supplying arms and expertise to a pro-Moscow insurgency and have imposed asset freezes and loan bans on many people and companies.

North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring traveled to Moscow in December 2012 as part of a U.S. trade delegation organized by the federal Agriculture Department. He said Thursday that he found an increasing demand for U.S. pulse crops such dry peas, dry beans and lentils. North Dakota leads the nation in the production of dry beans and is the second-leading state for dry peas and lentils.

“Their (Russia) growing middle class actually represented a lot of opportunity for us,” Goehring said. “Their middle class was certainly looking for American food because first, they trust the food safety, and secondly they always have interpreted that as being higher quality than what they can get from their local markets.”

However, political tensions over the past year and half have prevented the market from developing, he said.

“I don’t see this (ban) as being a big impact to us right now,” Goehring said.


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