Russia refuses to take our beef

IT IS unclear how long a Russian suspension of Australian beef imports could last, after Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce suggested it could be related to tensions over Crimea on Thursday.

Russian officials on Wednesday indicated the country was banning all Australian beef imports, on the basis tests of Wagyu beef had revealed growth hormones.

But after Russia suspended imports of Australian beef by-products, including offal, on similar grounds in January, it remains uncertain how long the latest suspension could last.

Although dwarfed by beef exports to China, the eastern European nation remains a key market for Australian beef, especially the sought-after Wagyu meat.

But Mr Joyce on Thursday told ABC the claims of growth hormones in the beef were "highly dubious", suggesting the trade suspension may have been related to Australia's opposition to Russia's incursion in Crimea.

He said that unfortunately the trade sometimes got tied up in "diplomatic issues", but that it was unlikely any Wagyu beef would have hormones in it, given the high standards of producing the product.