EU predicts pain for farmers and consumers from Ukraine crisis

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European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, June 5, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman

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BRUSSELS, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Russia's invasion of Ukraine and EU sanctions on Moscow will prove painful for farmers, consumers, fertilizer makers and exporters of farm products, the European Commission warned on Monday.

Michael Scannell, deputy director-general of the Commission's agriculture division, said grain buyers should brace for higher prices given that Russia and Ukraine made up more than 30% of global trade in wheat, 32% for barley, 17% for corn and more than 50% for sunflower oils, seeds and meals.

The bloc also imports significant amounts of animal feed and fertilisers from the region and its own fertiliser producers rely on imports of natural gas from Russia.

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"The consequences of this Russian aggression will have a major impact on our agri-food sector and it will be painful," Scannell told EU lawmakers ahead of an emergency meeting of EU agriculture ministers on Wednesday, which is expected to focus on food security.

The EU official told the agriculture commission of the European Parliament that close attention was on Black Sea ports, as this was the point of exit for most Ukrainian grain exports. That trade had essentially frozen, he added, with internal logistics hit and the risk of disruption to the summer corn sowing season.

"This raises the possibility that this crisis will continue into medium term because obviously that will impact harvests later this year," Scannell said.

The European Union has significant exports of pork to Ukraine and both exports and imports of poultry. From Russia, the EU imports wines, spirits and confectionery.

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Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Pravin Char

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