Wisconsin business impacted by Russian sanctions

Chippewa Valley Bean shipment stalled after export ban

MENOMONIE, Wis. (WKBT) - The latest round of shipping sanctions between the U.S. and Russia is having an impact on the ag business in Wisconsin.

Russia recently announced a ban on imports from the U.S. and other Western companies, in response to U.S. sanctions against their country. Chippewa Valley Bean, a Wisconsin-based processing company, shipped nearly 30 containers of beans to the country that now won't be able to clear customs.

"When the news came through last Thursday, the first 8 containers were on a vessel already headed towards Russia," said Cindy Brown, the company's president. "I think we're looking at about just shy of $1 million for this last shipment."

The Russian retaliation is just the latest in a trading cold war that's stopped the processing  company's business, mid-shipment.

"We think it affects about less than one half of one percent of our agricultural exports, so relatively small impact on us economically," said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.

Though the sanctions do little harm to the overall economy, it's no small beans to this Wisconsin company, which ships 65 percent of its products overseas. Of the roughly $6 million in agricultural products that Wisconsin exports to Russia, Chippewa Valley Bean makes up about $1 million of that.

But the business has a back-up plan.

"We'll take the beans off and send them back to France, because the customer has a canning factory there," Brown says.

This isn't the first time Chippewa Falls Bean has had a problem with exporting products to Russia. Just this summer, it cancelled a contract with a different Russian company because it didn't want to run the risk of getting shipments through Customs there.

Overall Wisconsin exports to Russia are relatively low - the country comes in 28th on the list of locations the state exports to.

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