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Russia Agrees to Reopen Pork Market to US

by 5m Editor
8 March 2010, at 10:55am

US - The United States and Russia have reached an agreement to reopen the Russian market to US pork and pork products.

"Exports are extremely important to the US pork industry," US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

"Reopening the market with Russia &ndash our fifth largest market last year – is excellent news for American hog producers."

The US exported nearly 20 per cent of our pork production in 2009. Russia imported $257 million worth – six per cent – of US pork and pork variety meat exports last year.

The US Department of Agriculture and the Office of the US Trade Representative have been in negotiations with the Russian Veterinary Service since December 2009 when Russia notified USDA of its intent to restrict pork shipments from 13 US pork plants, which accounted for more than 90 per cent of US pork exports to Russia. These negotiations led to the development of a new veterinary certificate to ensure that pork exports from the United States meet specific Russian microbiological and tetracycline-group antibiotic residue requirements.

The next step is for US plants that want to export to Russia to apply for approval with the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). AMS, in collaboration with the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), has developed an Export Verification (EV) programme for pork to Russia to address specific product requirements.

Export Verification programmes are designed to facilitate the marketing and the export of US products. Companies wishing to participate in USDA's EV programmes must meet the specified product requirements through a USDA Quality System Assessment (QSA) programme. The QSA programme ensures that the specified product requirements are supported by a documented quality management system. Products produced under an approved EV programme are eligible to be issued an FSIS Export certificate. AMS is expected to approve the first plants as early as next week. FSIS will then provide Russian authorities with a list of approved US pork facilities.

A US delegation led by Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services James Miller and Assistant US Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs Jim Murphy has been meeting with Russian officials in Moscow since Monday to discuss trade issues related to pork and poultry. Talks on poultry have been constructive and technical discussions will continue in the coming weeks.

“The re-opening of this important export market is a very positive development for the United States pork industry—which has a reputation for safety worldwide,” said American Meat Institute President and CEO, J. Patrick Boyle.

“We are very pleased that Russia is re-opening its market to US pork; it’s a very important destination for our products,” said NPPC President Don Butler. “NPPC also is very appreciative of the efforts of the US Department of Agriculture and the US Trade Representative in getting this deal done.”

In 2008, the United States shipped $476 million of pork to Russia, making that country the No. 5 market. Last year they fell to $289 million because of a several months-long ban on US pork over concerns about H1N1 flu, the global economic downturn and Russia delisting a number of US pork facilities. Exports to Russia, which were just $7.6 million in 2003, have soared since the United States and Russia signed a meat agreement in 2004.

The United States agreed to develop a new veterinary certificate to ensure that US pork exports meet specific Russian microbiological and tetracycline-group antibiotic residue requirements. US plants that want to export to Russia must apply for approval with the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. AMS, in collaboration with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, has developed an Export Verification (EV) programme for pork going to Russia to address specific product requirements.

“Our pork meets US and international standards, so we did not see the need for the EV programme,” said Mr Butler. “But the Russians wanted the programme, and we wanted to get back in the market.

“And while the re-opening of the Russian market is great news for our producers, we now need to get China to re-open its market to US pork.”

China closed its market to US pork in late April after the initial reports on the H1N1 flu outbreak. In December, China announced it would re-open its market but has yet to begin taking US pork. It recently reached agreement with Canada to take that country’s pork.

“We’re losing pork sales to Canada and the European Union,” said Mr Butler. “We need to get back into the Chinese market.”