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Grain Decision Coming

Officials will soon debate whether to extend the country's ban on grain exports beyond July 1, Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said Tuesday after meeting with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The grain crop forecast for this year is 85 million tons, which should provide a small exportable surplus after domestic consumption and restocking. But the head of a grower's union said last week that the forecast depended on access to financing for spring sowing.

The state agricultural bank slashed collateral needs Tuesday for farmers with little to pledge after the drought.

Concerns are mounting about feed grain prices, which have soared, causing farmers in some regions to slaughter much of their livestock.

(Reuters)

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