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By Kevin G. Hall, McClatchy Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture and its plant health inspection service has halted all certification of almonds and other commodities bound for Russia “effective immediately.”

The move Thursday, confirmed by California almond growers, followed Russia’s imposition of a one-year ban on a wide range of agriculture products, raw materials, and food coming from the United States, the European Union, Canada, Norway, and Australia.

While Russia has banned most U.S. farm products, it’s not clear what happens to goods that were already in the pipeline.

“At this time, the Almond Board of California is not aware of how consignments already in transit or now arriving in Russia will be handled,” the group said in a statement shared with McClatchy. “Year to date, shipments to Russia represent about 3 percent of total California almond exports.”

Russia imported about 23,500 tons of U.S. almonds last year, most from California, valued at $126 million.

“We look forward to working again with our customers in Russia, once the market is reopened,” said Jenny Nicolau, the board’s senior specialist for industry relations. “The Almond Board will continue to monitor the situation, working closely with U.S. government.”

AFP Photo/Maxim Shipenkov

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

Washington (AFP) - Republicans in the US Senate prevented action Thursday on a bill to address domestic terrorism in the wake of a racist massacre at a grocery store in upstate New York.

Democrats had been expecting defeat but were seeking to use the procedural vote to highlight Republican opposition to tougher gun control measures following a second massacre at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday.

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