Wimmera farmers fear food exports ban will affect grain prices

Wimmera farmers are unsure how a food ban will affect grain prices. Picture: FILE PIC
Wimmera farmers are unsure how a food ban will affect grain prices. Picture: FILE PIC

WIMMERA farmers fear Russia’s ban on Australian food exports could affect grain prices.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the year-long ban would affect imports on beef, pork, fruit, vegetables, poultry, fish and dairy products from the European Union, United States, Australia, Canada and Norway. 

Victorian Farmers Federation vice-president and Murra Warra farmer David Jochinke said how the ban would affect Wimmera farmers was still unknown, but farmers wanted answers.

“I would really like to know how my bottom line will change,” he said.

Mr Jochinke said the Federal Government needed to look at all possible alternate trading partners to help farmers.

He said Indonesia could be a possible candidate for increased trade.

“Ensuring we get as many opportunities, or customers, is the first thing the government should be doing,” he said.

Mr Jochinke said while Australia did not export much grain to Russia, the ban could indirectly affect grain prices, if Russia produced more than it needed this harvest.

“To get rid of that grain, they’ll need to pick other markets,” he said.

“If countries ratchet up more sanctions against Russia, it will affect the market we traditionally supply, for example the Middle East.”

Mr Jochinke said farmers should talk to their manufacturers to identify how much, if any, of their produce went to Russia. 

He also encouraged them to talk to their families and financiers to make sure they were not exposing themselves to any unnecessary market risks.

“I can only name a handful of producers that are big enough to export themselves out of Australia,” he said.

“At this acute time, people should be aware of where they’re hitting.”

National Farmers Federation president Brent Finlay said farmers were concerned about disruptions to export markets. 

“Australia exports more than 60 per cent of its agricultural produce,” he said.

“We expect some Australian farmers to directly feel the effects of the sanctions, however, the severity of total impact to the farm sector is still to be determined.”

Mr Finlay said the Federal Government needed to seek greater clarity on the details of the ban and determine what it meant for farmers.