Washington agricultural groups are monitoring reports that Russia's president has ordered a ban on all U.S. food imports, which could affect some Mid-Columbia crop exports.
Vladimir Putin's government has yet to release a list of what products will be specifically prohibited, but a state news agency quoted one government official as saying "from the USA, all products that are produced there and brought to Russia will be prohibited."
Apples, potatoes and other produce are among some of the exports sent to Russia from the Mid-Columbia. Agriculture officials said they have no indication if they will be affected but a ban could affect their markets.
"We're keeping a very watchful eye," said Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington State Apple Commission.
The ban reportedly is in retaliation for the latest round of sanctions against Russia imposed last week by the European Union, which for the first time targeted entire sectors of the Russian economy, reported The Associated Press.
The United States also has sanctioned Russian products and has frozen assets.
The apple commission's representatives in Russia said the list of banned products is expected in the coming days, Fryhover said. Washington apple growers sold more than $20 million in apples to Russia over the past two seasons.
"Russia is a good market for apples and any decline there would be a detriment," Fryhover said.
Some potatoes end up in Russia, specifically in Vladivostok, the country's largest port on the Pacific Ocean, said Matt Harris with the Washington State Potato Commission.
Most of those exports don't begin until September, and he plans to monitor them.
"It sounds like there's tit for tat," he said.
Russia last week banned the import of apples and some other fruits from Poland, saying this was because of sanitary concerns, but raising speculation that the move was in retaliation for Poland's support of the Ukrainian authorities.
The U.S. and the European Union have accused Russia, which annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March, of fomenting tensions in eastern Ukraine by supplying arms and expertise to a pro-Moscow insurgency.
White House spokeswoman Laura Lucas Magnuson decried the move, saying, "Retaliating against Western companies or countries will deepen Russia's international isolation, causing further damage to its own economy," reported the AP.
Russia depends heavily on imported foodstuffs -- most of it from the West -- particularly in the largest and most prosperous cities such as Moscow.
Food and agricultural imports from the U.S. amounted to $1.3 billion last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and in 2013 the European Union's agricultural exports to Russia totaled 11.8 billion euros ($15.8 billion), said the AP.
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.
-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @_tybeaver; Google+: +TyBeaverTCHerald