Roger Bernard, Farm Journal Policy & Washington Editor
The deal on pork trade with Russia that Russian officials signaled earlier this week had been reached has now been confirmed by USDA. However, no agreement has been reached on poultry trade and negotiations there will continue over the next "several weeks," USDA noted.
In a release this morning, USDA said the two sides have been in talks since December 2009 and those talks led to the development of a new veterinary certificate to ensure that pork exports from the United States meet specific Russian microbiological and tetracycline-group antibiotic residue requirements.
Now, it's up to U.S. meat plants that want to export to Russia to apply for approval with USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).
AMS, in collaboration with the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), has developed an Export Verification (EV) program for pork to Russia to address specific product requirements. Export Verification programs are designed to facilitate the marketing and the export of U.S. products.
Companies wishing to participate in USDA's EV Programs must meet the specified product requirements through a USDA Quality System Assessment (QSA) Program. The QSA Program ensures that the specified product requirements are supported by a documented quality management system. Products produced under an approved EV Program are eligible to be issued an FSIS Export certificate. AMS is expected to approve the first plants as early as next week. FSIS will then provide Russian authorities with a list of approved U.S. pork facilities.
The U.S. exported nearly 20% of its pork production in 2009, with Russia buying $257 million in pork products -- about 6% of U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports.