WASHINGTON – The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is warning the meat industry that Russia may ban imports of US beef and pork on Moscow’s requirement that meat be tested and certified free of ractopamine, a feed additive.

"Exporters are cautioned that Russia may reject US pork shipments and delist producing establishments if ractopamine residues are detected in exported product," the notice stated. "At this time, FSIS is not requiring documentation that demonstrates that the product is free of ractopamine before issuing export certification. FSIS likely will soon provide additional instructions that will require such documentation."

Russia implemented the requirement on Dec. 8, two days after the US Senate passed Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal Act of 2012, which would establish Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia. The bill also would punish Russian human rights violators. The US House or Representatives passed the bill in November. Commodities analysts have linked passage of the bill to Russia’s move on ractopamine residues, characterizing the new regulation as political retaliation.

Beef exports to Russia for the first nine months of 2012 advanced 4 percent in volume to more than 40,000 metric tons and 20 percent in value at $203.7 million, according to data from the US Meat Export Federation. Pork exports gained 28 percent in volume to 71,863 metric tons with a value of $203 million in the first nine months of 2012.

"The US red meat industry is committed to supplying healthy, nutritious beef and pork to our customers in Russia and markets around the world," USMEF said. "This commitment is based on the best available science and has the backing of the United States government."

"We are confident that a science-based solution to the disagreement over testing and certification can be found quickly so that exports of US beef and pork can resume very soon."