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Russian President Vladimir Putin / Alexei Nikolsky, AFP/Getty Images

Retaliating for U.S. sanctions over Ukraine, Russia will ban or limit all American agricultural products for up to a year, a Kremlin official said Wednesday.

All fruits and vegetables from the European Union will also be locked out, the country's agricultural and veterinary watchdog told RIA Novosti. Produce from Canada and Japan will also be blocked.

The complete list of banned products, to be announced Thursday, will be "very substantial," said Alexey Alekseenko, an assistant to the head of the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance.

The White House said the move would further harm Russia and its economy.

"Retaliating against Western companies or countries will deepen Russia's international isolation, causing further damage to its own economy," a spokeswoman told RIA Novosti.

Food prices in Russia would likely rise in the short term because of the import ban but not cause long-term damage, the country's agricultural watchdog predicted.

The ban is not likely to have a major impact on U.S. farmers and ranchers, said U.S. farm groups.

"It is unfortunate that the biggest losers in this will be Russian consumers, who will pay more for their food now as well as in the long run," Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, told The Des Moines Register.

Still, farm groups urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to rescind the decree he signed earlier Wednesday authorizing the year-long ban on all agricultural imports from countries that imposed sanctions on Russian companies, banks, politicians and oligarchs because of the conflict in Ukraine.

Last year, U.S. data show, Russia imported about $1.3 billion in U.S. food and agricultural products. That accounted for just over 10% of all U.S. exports to the country.

Poultry was the top U.S. import, worth $310 million, followed by tree nuts ($172 million), soybeans ($157 million), and live animals ($149 million). Russia is also the 5th largest export market for U.S. pork and the 8th largest export market worldwide for U.S. beef, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Globally, Russia is now the second-largest agricultural importer after China among so-called emerging markets. Imports rose from $7 billion in 2000 to $33 billion in 2008, a U.S. Agriculture Department study reported.

Contributing: The Des Moines Register



Copyright 2014USAToday

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