U.S. Meat Exporters Call Russia Ban ‘Significant’ Sales Loss

Russia’s proposed ban on U.S. meat exports next week will mean a “significant” loss of business in a market that was the sixth largest for beef sales, an industry group said.

The sales halt set to start Feb. 11 will be “a hard kick in the you-know-what,” Philip Seng, the U.S. Meat Export Federation’s chief executive officer, told reporters today at an industry conference in Tampa, Florida. Russia imposed the ban on U.S. pork and beef after saying last month that the meats may contain a feed additive known as ractopamine, which is used to add lean muscle in livestock.

“The loss in Russia is significant,” Seng said. “This is a regrettable situation because everybody was hopeful that we could have improved relations with Russia, especially in agricultural trade.”

The Russian market probably won’t be closed for long, he said. The USMEF, which will have representatives in Russia next week, is working to find a compromise, he said. The U.S. government has insisted the meat is safe, adding that the ban was not consistent with international trade standards.

The U.S. exported about $280 million of pork and about $305 million of beef to Russia in 11 months through Nov. 30, according to Joe Schuele, a federation spokesman. Russia was the sixth-biggest buyer of U.S. pork and beef in the period, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show.

Effective Feb. 1, Japan is allowing beef from U.S. cattle less than 30 months of age, easing restrictions. That may counter the loss from Russia, Seng said.

U.S. beef shipments to Japan may reach 225,000 metric tons (496 million pounds) valued at $1.5 billion, the U.S. Meat Export Federation has estimated.

(Updates with comments starting in second paragraph.)
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