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Moscow: U.S. to make up grain shortage

Aug. 11, 2010 at 8:35 AM

MOSCOW, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- The United States is likely to make up for the shortfall in Russian grain production brought on by drought and wildfires, the Russian agriculture minister said.

Record-breaking temperatures in Russia are complicating efforts to address raging fires sweeping through the country. Moscow said around 26.7 million acres of crops were wiped out by drought and wildfires, causing Russian grain production estimates for 2010 to plummet 38 percent.

Moscow, the world's fourth-largest grain exporter, imposed a ban on grain exports effective Sunday. With grain exporting countries Ukraine and Kazakhstan also hit by drought, the United States will have to make up the difference, Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports.

"If any (country) is going to take our export potential, it will be the United States," Russian Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik was quoted as saying.

Russia stands to lose around $15 billion -- around 1 percent of its gross domestic product -- from grain losses in 2010. Moscow said the shortage from Russia is unlikely to impact short-term food prices, however.

Moscow said the export ban would be reviewed in October.

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