Russian Grains Seen Unaffected by Outbreaks of Foot and Mouth

Russia’s grain is safe even following outbreaks of foot and mouth disease in the cereal-growing south, the country’s food safety organization said.

Russia detected two incidents in the North Caucasus area and one in the Krasnodar region in cattle at private households since June, according to the agency, known as Rosselkhoznadzor. Ukraine halted the transit of grain from Krasnodar until the situation is resolved, Interfax-Ukraine reported today, citing Agriculture Minister Mykola Prysyazhnyuk. Foot and mouth is a highly contagious viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals that can be fatal to livestock.

“Cattle were not pastured on grain fields,” Rosselkhoznadzor spokesman Alexei Alekseenko said today by phone from Moscow. “The virus lives only on vulnerable animals and cannot practically survive on grain seeds even if it gets onto a seed surface.”

The North Caucasus and Southern federal districts, where the outbreaks were found, are Russia’s top grain exporting areas, together accounting for 35 percent of the national crop last year. Ukraine’s prohibition won’t affect Russian shipments because the country will use only its own ports in July and August this year, said Andrey Sizov Jr., managing director at Moscow-based agricultural researcher SovEcon.

Russia exported about 500,000 metric tons of grain through Ukraine in 2011-12, when its total exports were more than 27 million tons, and the amount will be “small” this season, when exports are estimated at 18 million to 19 million tons, Sizov said, without elaborating. Russia was the fifth-biggest wheat shipper after the U.S., the European Union, Australia and Canada in 2012-13, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.