February 24,2016


Russia temporarily bans US corn, soybeans


The Russian Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Service (VPSS) has imposed temporary restrictions on US corn  and soy imports for alleged violations of international and Russian phytosanitary requirements.


Russia's official ban notice, based on an unofficial translation done by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), stated that the US had failed to "undertake effective measures" to prevent the delivery of quarantined corn and soybeans "contaminated with quarantine pests to the territory of the Russian Federation".


The VPSS said the temporary restriction on corn and soy imports, which started on Feb. 15, include transit through third countries, adding that the aim was to "protect the territory of the Russian Federation from the entry of quarantine pests, which are absent in Russia, in compliance with the International Plant Protection Convention and the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures".


VPSS also said that a pest risk analysis they had commissioned indicated 10 to 15 billion rubles (US$130.8 -196.2 million) in potential agricultural losses, if corn plant pest became widespread in Russian agriculture.


The USDA, however, said the VPSS never provided the US Animal Plant Health Inspection

Service (APHIS) copies of the risk analysis despite repeatedly being asked.


While acknowledging that a pest-risk analysis like the one Russia conducted may indicate that a disease has the potential to significantly impact the environment, the USDA pointed out that there must be a pathway for release of that contaminant into the environment. "The type of treatment currently conducted in Russia has clearly prevented such a release", the USDA noted.


The USDA said APHIS and VPSS held technical talks via conference call on Feb. 9 and that following those talks, VPSS announced imposition of the temporary restriction of imports of soybeans and corn from the US.


The US exported a record 510,000 metric tonnes of soy to Russia last year, valued at $190 million. It is currently ranked Russia's third supplier of soybeans, after Paraguay and Brazil. Soybeans were excluded from Russia's food import embargo related to the Ukraine issue.