OTTAWA, Ontario –– Cargill Meat Solutions’ Guelph facility has been approved to ship its beef to Russia. Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz congratulated the company on the news, which means Ontario producers now have access to another lucrative market.

This achievement can be attributed to the sustained efforts by the industry and government, notably the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Several weeks ago in Germany, Ritz met with his Russian counterpart, Agriculture Minister Skrynnik, and highlighted the need for this facility to be approved for export. This process began when Minister Ritz led a trade mission to Russia in October 2009 that kicked off rigorous negotiations and resulted in the agreement on conditions to export bone-in beef from cattle under 30 months of age and boneless beef from cattle over 30 months of age.

“Russia is among the world’s largest meat importing countries so this is tremendous news for Cargill’s Guelph facility and Ontario producers,” Ritz said. “This is an excellent example of what happens when industry and government work together to eliminate trade barriers.”

Cargill is the second-largest beef processor in North America, handling more than 7.6 million head of cattle per year. The Guelph facility has successfully applied for access to the Russian market in which Canadian exports surpassed the $20 million dollar mark last year. This was a four-fold increase to the value of beef exports to Russia from Canada in 2009, which was worth approximately $5.5 million dollars.

Approval of the Cargill plant will contribute positively to the growth in exports to Russia with the company estimating this latest news will result in more than $2 million in new annual sales. This Cargill plant now joins a list of facilities in Canada already eligible for export to Russia.

Several weeks ago, Ritz announced the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will be placing a permanent veterinarian in Moscow to help mitigate future trade disruptions and expand market access for beef and pork markets. This placement will not only benefit Canadian producers, but it will also help Russian importers and processors.