N.P.P.C. praises re-opening of Russian market

by Bryan Salvage
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KANSAS CITY, MO. — An agreement reached last week between the U.S. and Russia that will re-open the Russian market to U.S. pork is being applauded by the National Pork Producers Council (N.P.P.C.).

By the end of 2009, Russia had delisted virtually all U.S. pork facilities, prohibiting them from shipping pork to the country.

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

The U.S. shipped $476 million of pork to Russia in 2008, making that country the No. 5 market. In 2009, it fell to $289 million because of a several-months ban on U.S. pork over concerns about the H1N1 flu, the global economic downturn and Russia delisting a number of U.S. pork facilities. Exports to Russia, which were just $7.6 million in 2003, have soared since the U.S. and Russia signed a meat agreement in 2004.

In this latest agreement, the U.S. agreed to develop a new veterinary certificate to ensure that U.S. pork exports meet specific Russian microbiological and tetracycline-group antibiotic residue requirements. U.S. plants wanting to export to Russia must apply for approval with the U.S.D.A.’s Agricultural Marketing Service. A.M.S., in collaboration with U.S.D.A.’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, has developed an Export Verification (E.V.) program for pork going to Russia to address specific product requirements.

“Our pork meets U.S. and international standards, so we did not see the need for the E.V. program,” Mr. Butler said. “But the Russians wanted the program, 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 U.S. pork.”

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

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

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