WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture is achieving results from the agency's efforts to support exports of US cattle, poultry and other agricultural products, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Export markets in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia are open for exports of US day-old chicks and hatching eggs, increasing US exports by an estimated $25 million a year, according to APHIS.

"This is a significant agreement for poultry exporters in the United States," Vilsack said. "For nearly 10 years, APHIS has pursued the opening of the Russian market to US day-old chicks and hatching eggs, and now we have also secured access for these products to Belarus and Kazakhstan."

In February, APHIS veterinary health personnel and their counterparts in Moscow developed the export documentation that APHIS will issue for products shipped to the three countries. The agency said Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus formed a Customs Union in 2010. The countries are currently working to harmonize import requirements for cattle and other live animals and livestock products. APHIS reported that the market access for poultry commodities represents the first of nearly 40 new agreements related to live animals and animal products that USDA will work to negotiate with the Customs Union.

Additionally, direct negotiations with Iraqi animal health officials in February yielded an agreement between APHIS and their counterparts in Iraq on export certification requirements for US dairy cattle shipments to that country. The annual market value is estimated at more than $60 million.

"The Middle East is an important and emerging market for US cattle exporters," Vilsack said.