Via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.
NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.
Russia to demand new checks on meat from North America re: ractopamine.
Senate passage of the measure to give Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) to Russia drew a positive response from USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack at the Farm Journal Forum, cosponsored by Informa Economics. But trade sources noted that Russia is poised to negatively impact shipments of some U.S. beef products (tongue, liver and some other products) and pork products, citing ractopamine as the reason.
Trade contacts noted that the inclusion of human rights provisions in the PNTR plan could well be the reason for Russia's trade restrictions as the country had warned that if the U.S. approved that version of the trade measure, it would harm relations and potentially prompt a response from Moscow. This again underscores the dangers of lawmakers attaching other measures to trade legislation.
Russia previously threatened that a new U.S. law which seeks to punish human rights violators will "adversely affect the prospects of bilateral cooperation" between the two powers. As previously noted, the Senate passed the measure yesterday as part of a bill that grants Russia "permanent normal trade relations" by lifting Cold War-era restrictions. The bill will now go to President Obama for his signature.
Russia is to demand new checks on meat from North America after detecting the controversial growth promoter ractopamine in batches of imported pork and beef this week.
In a statement on its website, Russia's state veterinary service Rosselkhoznadzor said new rules would require shipments from the U.S. and Canada to be accompanied by certificates showing they had been tested for the additive.
The agency said it had informed the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the change, which takes effect from December 7, 2012. Similar notification has been sent to the Canadian veterinary authorities.
Ractopamine is widely used by livestock producers in the Americas, but remains banned in Russia, China and the European Union.
While use of the drug got approval from the Codex Alimentarius commission earlier this year, Russian officials have shown no signs of softening their position. Indeed, citing the need to align their import rules with the EU, Russian officials have recently upped the ante, warning that ractopamine residues in meat will not be tolerated.
After finding traces of the drug in U.S. and Canadian meat shipments this week, Rosselkhoznadzor said the products in question would have to be destroyed or re-exported - meaning that Russian stakeholders would lose out financially.
Agra Europe noted that the new testing requirements are not entirely unexpected: in guidance published before this week's announcement, the FSIS warned that it is likely would soon require documentation demonstrating that the product is free of ractopamine before issuing export certification for Russia. It also warned that Russia may reject U.S. pork shipments and delist producing establishments if ractopamine residues are detected.
Another rule change which took effect this week means U.S. exporters can no longer supply Russia with natural pork casings supplied from third countries. The new requirements, which came into force on December 3, mean all exports of these kind of products must now be sourced from approved U.S. plants.
The National Pork Producers Council, which did not take a position on PNTR, says in a statement that "Russia's harassment and restrictions based on non-science-based" standards have cut U.S. pork exports by 60 percent since 2008. "We continue to seek a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Russia that will eliminate the restrictions and harassment and which will allow US pork producers to benefit from Russia's accession to the WTO.