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French farmers fear market saturation after Russian ban on agricultural products

Reuters/Jon Nazca

Agriculture experts are calculating the cost of the Russian wide-ranging ban on food and agricultural products that came into effect this week.

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According to Jacques Rouchausse, the president of vegetable producers in France, the import ban will seriously affect France’s fruit and vegetable industry.

He told RFI: “We’re certainly worried for French producers because France exports 50 thousand tonnes of fruit and vegetables to Russia.”

He explained that the nature compounds the urgency of the problem: “Fruit and vegetables are perishable and can’t be stocked for long, so when these products flood the markets the stock market rates will fall. So we absolutely must shore up the stock market prices. We have to be able to pay producers a decent price otherwise we’re heading for a catastrophe.”

The US, Canada and the European Union together will take more than a $17.5 billion hit from the import ban.

The Kremlin's decision comes a week after the European Union slammed Russia with another round of sanctions for the Ukrainian crisis, which for the first time targeted entire sectors of the Russian economy.

Rouchausse says that the French public has a role to play in this crisis. ”If people don’t deliberately chose to buy French products, businesses will go under and that means fewer jobs. I’m appealing to distributors, wholesalers, retailers, and the entire chain, to show economic patriotism by buying home-grown produce so we can get through this and pull France up.”

France is not the only country in the European Union that will suffer from the imposed one-year ban. Poland, the Netherlands and Germany will also feel much of the loss.
France exports 1.2 billion euros worth of agricultural products to Russia annually. The Netherlands exports 1.5 billion euros, Germany exports 1.6 billion euros and Poland exports 1.6 billion euros to Russia.

Poland reacted to the stark prospect of a ban on its apples with a popular campaign slogan “An apple a day keeps Putin away!” that urges citizens to drink more cider and eat more apples.

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