OTTAWA, Ontario – During the opening of the first Canada-Russia Livestock Forum held on June 1 in Ottawa, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz highlighted the importance of Canada's growing partnership with Russia in the agriculture sector. Ritz and Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov renewed their commitment to build on Canada and Russia's strong ties and agreed to continue working together to increase bilateral trade for the benefit of farmers.

"Russia is a growing market and partner for Canada's agriculture sector, especially for the livestock industry," Ritz said. "Gathering key players from both countries at events such as this forum ensures we continue to strengthen ties with our Russian partners and create opportunities for our farmers."

Ritz also congratulated Genesus Genetics Inc., a company from Manitoba that just finalized an agreement to ship 4100 Canadian live swine to Russia, a deal worth more than $5 million (US$5.2 million). This contract is the largest ever signed by Canada with Russia for registered purebred pigs, according to Genesus Genetics Inc.

Over the last three years, Russia's annual average imports of livestock and genetics from Canada were worth $26 million (US$26.8 million) in a potential market of $235 million (US$242 million) and Russia's interest in Canadian products and expertise keeps growing.

Under the theme "Partners in Livestock Excellence", the Canada-Russia Livestock Forum brings together leading business representatives and government officials to strengthen bilateral relations with the aim of increasing trade and knowledge transfer between the two countries.