The European ban on imports of U.S. beef raised with growth hormones will have little impact on the nation's cattle industry or consumer beef prices, says an agricultural economist at the University of Idaho.

But industry economists have estimated that losses from the ban could average $2.59 a head and cost beef producers $145 million a year nationwide.Richard Shermerhorn, chairman of the University of Idaho's agriculture economics department, said the amount of meat the United States exports is too small to cause a great deal of economic havoc.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures from 1985, only $478 million worth of meat and meat products was exported out of a total production valued at more than $21.1 billion. The ban would keep $120 million worth of U.S. beef and beef products out of Europe.

Shermerhorn said his main concern is that the unilateral decision by the European nations creates a kind of "non-tariff barrier" that hinders free trade.