U.S. calls on Russia to lift ban on meat imports
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The United States Monday urged Russia to lift a ban on import of its meat products, reminding it of its obligations being a member of the World Trade Organization.
In a joint statement, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “The United States is very disappointed that Russia has taken action to suspend all imports of U.S. meat, which is produced to the highest safety standards in the world.”
The comments came in the wake of Russia’s ban on imports of all- American beef, pork, turkey and other meat products because of ractopamine’s presence in animal feed. The U.S. considers it as a safe additive, arguing that more than 27 countries use ractopamine.
The ministers added that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also described it as completely safe and hence called Russia to restore market access for its products.
However, animal rights groups claimed that around 160 countries have banned ractopamine – a stimulant for livestock growth.
Dave Warner, spokesman of an American Pork Producers Council said that Russian ban is more of reducing competition for domestic industry than food safety concerns. “Pork is a pretty important industry for Russia, so this is about reducing the competition for their domestic pork industry,” Warner told RIA Novosti in an interview.
In a separate interview with the Russian news agency, U.S. Meat Export spokesman Joe Schuele said, “Obviously we want to get back to the market quickly, it was a red hot market for most of 2012, there’s a lot of demand for beef and pork in Russia.”
Schuele recalled that the U.S. exported 80,000 metric tons of beef and 99,000 metric tons of pork to Russia last year at a total value of $589 million.