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Russia Bans Wheat Exports Amid Drought, Heat Wave

Russia is anticipating a poor grain harvest this year.

Russia is anticipating a poor grain harvest this year.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin today announced a temporary ban on grain exports amid forecasts of a poor harvest caused by a severe heat wave.

Putin made the announcement at a cabinet meeting in Moscow, saying, "In connection with abnormally high temperature and drought, I think it is advisable to introduce a temporary ban on the export from Russia of grain and other agriculture products made from grain."

Putin said the ban goes into effect August 15 and runs through December 31.

The move comes as Russia faces record high temperatures that have caused hundreds of wildfires and a drought that has damaged 20 percent of its wheat crop.

He said the measure is needed to prevent a rise in domestic food prices, preserve the number of Russia's cattle, and build up reserves.

Russia is among the world's largest grain exporters, and Putin's announcement drove up international wheat prices today by 8 percent -- the maximum allowed per day. Prices are already nearly 70 percent more than in early June.

The death toll from the wildfires across Russia rose to at least 50 today.

compiled from agency reports