Hogs Drop After Russia Bans U.S. Meat Imports; Cattle Decline

Hog prices fell for the first time this week on speculation that demand for U.S. pork and beef will drop after Russia halted imports of U.S. meat. Cattle also declined.

U.S. pork and beef shipments are banned starting Feb. 11, because the meats may contain a feed additive known as ractopamine, Russia’s food-safety agency said today in an e-mailed statement. Ractopamine is used to develop lean muscle in livestock, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Russia was the sixth-biggest buyer of U.S. pork and U.S. beef in the 11 months through Nov. 30, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show.

“Losing some demand is certainly not a good situation for us,” Mark Schultz, the chief analyst at Northstar Commodity Investment Co. in Minneapolis, said in a telephone interview, citing the Russian ban.

Hog futures for April settlement dropped 0.4 percent to settle at 89.25 cents a pound at 1 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, the price rose as much as 0.8 percent. The commodity is up 4.1 percent this month.

U.S. shipments to Russia of chilled and frozen pork in 2011 were 59,680 metric tons, or almost 9 percent of total national imports of the meat, Federal Customs Service spokeswoman Victoria Abramova said today, citing the most recent annual data.

Cattle futures for April delivery fell less than 0.1 percent to settle at $1.32925 a pound in Chicago.

Feeder-cattle futures for March settlement climbed 0.2 percent to close at $1.491 a pound on the CME.

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