Russia’s Grain Imports Seen Rising to More Than 2 Million Tons

Russia, the world’s third-biggest wheat exporter last season, will need to import more than 2 million metric tons of feed grain this season after drought seared crops, the country’s Grain Producers’ Union said.

That compares with its estimate of about 2 million tons on Nov. 1. The country usually imports about 800,000 tons of feed grain, according to the union data.

“Farmers will have to choose between slaughtering livestock or feeding it with seed grain in January,” Pavel Skurikhin, the union president, said in an e-mailed statement today.

The Agriculture Ministry downgraded its grain crop forecast yesterday to 71 million tons from October’s 71.7 million tons. That compares with 94.2 million tons harvested in 2011, according to its data.

Arkady Zlochevsky, Russia’s Grain Union president, said yesterday that elevated cereal prices this year will leave farmers with enough funds to buy high-quality seeds and fertilizers and harvest more than 100 million tons if there’s favorable weather in the coming season.

Skurikhin said high grain prices now won’t necessarily be enough for a successful sowing campaign, “because farms will physically have nothing to sell” later this season.

The government’s plans to increase the capital of the Russian Agricultural bank, known as Rosselkhozbank, by as much as 40 billion rubles ($1.26 billion) will allow more lending to farms and may improve the sowing and next year’s crop prospects, Skurikhin said.

Wheat for December delivery rose 0.6 percent to $8.69 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade by 4:27 p.m. in Moscow. It’s advanced 33 percent this year.

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