Gordeyev Drops Duties on Wheat Exports

The country will drop wheat-export taxes after they expire July 1 because of expectations for a bigger harvest, Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev told reporters Wednesday.

Russia will reap at least 85 million tons of grain this year, he said, reiterating an existing forecast. The wheat harvest should be 48 million to 50 million tons, of which 40 million tons will be suitable for food and the rest for animal feed, Gordeyev said.

"Given the decent harvest forecast, we see no reason to limit grain exports," he said.

Prices for grains including wheat and corn have risen to records this year, bolstered by higher demand and export restrictions by producing nations. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says world food imports will cost a record $1.04 trillion this year, $215 billion more than in 2007.

The country's grain stockpiles will total 11.5 million tons by July 1, 1 million tons more than a year earlier, Gordeyev said.

Farmers have sown more than 90 percent of the area targeted for spring crops, he said. Sowing will be completed next week, earlier than last year, because of warmer weather and more machinery. Harvesting may begin in two weeks, he said.

The winter-crop area expanded by 2 million hectares this year to 15.3 million hectares, he said.