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Video: Russia food ban a ‘nightmare’ for French farmers

AFP/ French cheese factory
3 min

French food trader Jean Selverro will lose €200 thousand a month because of Russia’s import bans on food from the European Union, announced this week. Normally, 90 percent of his apples and pears are exported to Russia.

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“I’m shocked,” he told FRANCE 24. “I think it’s a nightmare I need to wake up from. It’s just not possible. I have to tell my employees, some who have been with me for nine years. Tomorrow or the day after, it’s over.”

A truck loaded with 22 tonnes of Selverro’s fruit now has to be emptied.

President Xavier Beulin of a French farm union said the Russian import ban could seriously affect France’s fruit and vegetable industry. “Russia is a significant market for us and one that grows by about 10 percent each year. It’s not trivial,” he told a European television network.

But it is not just fruit and vegetables. At the Rungis food market outside of Paris, cheese exporter Sabah Quartau was working the phones trying to determine the fate of her company’s next shipment. She has been told that trucks transporting food are likely to be stopped at the border.

“The merchandise inside [a truck nearing the border] will now need new clients before it reaches its expiry date,” she says. Last year, her company’s exports to Russia totaled €2 million.

The US, Canada and the European Union together will take more than a $17.5 billion hit from the one-year ban, imposed by Russia in retaliation for Western sanctions on Russia over the war in Ukraine.

The United States exported about $1.2 billion in food and agricultural goods to Russia last year, less than one percent of total U.S. agriculture exports. The EU exported about 11.8 billion euros ($15.8 billion) to Russia, about 10 percent of its total agriculture exports. Canada’s agricultural exports to Russia amounted to $563 million Canadian dollars ($515 million) in 2012.

In the EU, France, Poland, the Netherlands and Germany will feel much of the loss. France sends 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion) worth of agricultural products to Russia annually. The Netherlands send 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion), Germany 1.6 billion euros ($2.1 billion) and Poland 1.6 billion euros ($2.1 billion).

Russia’s ban on Polish apples, announced last week, led to a popular campaign in Poland, where people were urged to drink more cider and eat more apples. A widely used slogan was, “An apple a day keeps Putin away!”

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)

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