Russia to ban meat from most Canadian, Mexican suppliers

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Russia plans to ban meat imports from most Canadian and Mexican suppliers from April 8 over concerns about the use of the feed additive ractopamine, Russia's veterinary and phytosanitary service (VPSS) said on Friday.

"More than 50 percent of Canadian companies will be excluded from the list of suppliers," VPSS spokesman Alexei Alekseenko said.

Russia also plans to ban about 80 percent of Mexican meat importers from April 8, Interfax news agency reported earlier on Friday, citing the head of VPSS Sergei Dankvert.

Canada was the largest pork supplier to Russia and accounted for 25 percent of its imports in 2012, Sergei Yushin, head of Russia's National Meat Association, told Reuters. About 5 percent of imported beef came to Russia from Mexico last year.

VPSS's list of Canadian pork suppliers, published on its website, includes about 88 companies, while the list for Mexico includes 20 names. A VPSS spokesman could not comment on whether these lists had been updated.

Used as a growth stimulant to make meat leaner, ractopamine is banned in some countries over concerns that residues could remain in the meat and cause health problems, despite scientific evidence indicating that it is safe.

Since December, Russia has only accepted meat from Canadian livestock that were never fed ractopamine - which was already a tiny portion of the cattle herd, said John Masswohl, director of government and international relations at the Canadian Cattlemen's Association.

Now Russia will only accept meat from ractopamine-free animals that are processed in Canadian plants that do not also handle livestock that have been raised on the stimulant - and such plants do not exist in Canada, Masswohl said.

"You're taking a very bad existing situation, which limits (beef) trade to almost nothing, and making it nothing."

Cargill Ltd and JBS USA Holdings Inc, are the biggest beef packers in Canada.

"Our government is disappointed that despite our collaborative efforts, the Russian government is moving forward with this measure not rooted in science," said Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, in an email statement to Reuters. "We continue to work aggressively with Canadian industry to restore their access into the important Russian market."

Russia is a small, but fast-growing market for Canadian beef, worth about C$15 million ($14.7 million) in 2011. Russia is the third-largest market for Canadian pork, worth about C$500 million a year, said Jacques Pomerleau, executive director of Canada Pork International, a marketing promotion agency.

Canada has about a dozen pork-processing plants that only accept ractopamine-free pigs, but there is no guarantee that Russia will include all of them on its revised supplier list, Pomerleau said.

Canada's two biggest pork processors, Olymel and Maple Leaf Foods, have some facilities that should be eligible, Pomerleau said.

"We're working very hard to meet Russia's expectations," said Olymel spokesman Richard Vigneault. "It's a very important market for us."

Spokespersons for Cargill and JBS could not be immediately reached, and Maple Leaf declined comment.

Spokesmen for Mexico's Economy and Agriculture ministries said they were still reviewing the situation.

The Feb. 11 Russian ban on U.S. beef, pork and turkey because of the feed additive remains in place. Russia barred turkey imports from the United States despite a U.S. poultry trade group's finding that U.S. turkey companies that ship to Russia do not use ractopamine.

More than $600 million worth of U.S. beef, pork and turkey is exported to Russia annually. The ban came amid trade tensions between the two countries.

The U.S. Senate last year approved a bill to expand bilateral trade. At the same time it sought to punish Russian human rights violators, leading to speculation that the ban on U.S. meat was in retaliation, which Russia denied.

"Basically we're just watching the situation and working with the industry and U.S. trade officials on a solution," said Joe Schuele, communications director for the U.S. Meat Export Federation, a trade association for U.S. meat producers.

Russia will cover its meat demand by supplies from South America, mainly Brazil, Alekseenko said.

Russia imported 1.32 million tonnes of red meat, excluding offal, worth $5.12 billion from countries outside the Commonwealth of Independent States in 2012, official customs data showed.

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USA  |  April, 06, 2013 at 10:06 PM

Yeah, stop all export and import of horsemeat worldwide. Horses must not be eaten.

USA/canada  |  April, 07, 2013 at 08:56 AM

Congratulations to the Russian government for actively taking a stand to protect their citizens. Now we just have to get the rest of the European market to so the same and ban not only these meats but horse meat as well.

April, 07, 2013 at 09:49 AM

This is great news, this horse slaughter business is going to backfire in everyone's face who wanted it started up again here, already starting to BIG TIME, how's the Cattlemens Ass. & Arig. & AQHA doing now!!!! Here they are pushing for this to happen and all this tainted beef is found over seas , ( OH DEAR )...... They all are cutting there own throats.... My mom ALWAYS told be what goes around comes around and it is coming around !! The truth will prevail for all our Majestic Horses, who have been with us standing side by side!!

Craig A. Moore    
Billings, MT  |  April, 09, 2013 at 08:48 AM

When are you horsy people going to understand what is really going on in Europe. They are not protesting the slaughter and consumption of horse meat, they are protesting it being mixed with their beef. When they order beef, they want beef. When they order horse, they want horse. And if you want all the western wild horse warehoused rather than slaughtered, how about you horse lovers pony up the $75 million a year to take care of the ones the land can't support.

Sharon Jacobs-Salinas    
Texas  |  April, 14, 2013 at 11:38 AM

Craig, every horse advocate is aware of what the Russians are protesting. You are the one who does not seem to understand the big picture. I am amazed you wrote what you did. Surely, you have made a great number of your fellow cattle and/or pro-slaughter people cringe. You just admitted a fact; horsemeat is a toxic carcinogen. It has nothing to do with ‘when they want beef, they want beef; when they want horse, they want horse’; it is the fact that horsemeat is toxic…what do you not understand about that? You slight the intelligence of the Russians and EU with your comment. You bet the Russians are protesting; they know the risk of getting just a T-I-N-Y bit of horsemeat mixed with their beef. Unfortunately, the toxic horsemeat going into beef is not just a ‘tiny’ bit but a ‘LOT’. Do your homework… (continued)

Sharon Jacobs-Salinas    
Texas  |  April, 14, 2013 at 11:41 AM

@ Craig - The EU nor the Russians want toxic horsemeat from America’s horses because every bite is a fork-full of cancer. Then is gets put into their BEEF! What is necessary is to stop the incessant, deliberate overbreeding of horses. These people that deliberately overbreed do so because they must have some way of backing up their claim of “too many ‘unwanted’ horses” just to add flavor [no pun intended] to their lies in order to get horse slaughter plants opened here in the USA. Frankly, I do not that see happening with the outrage over toxic carcinogenic If there is no market for beef because of the fear of just a tiny bit of horsemeat getting in it then there will be absolutely NO market for horsemeat at all! (continued)

Sharon Jacobs-Salinas    
Texas  |  April, 14, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Craig - As for our beloved, healthy western wild horses and facts, you do not know the facts. If the DOI/BLM would leave them alone where they belong, there would be no need for warehousing. Man’s unnecessary, absurd interference is what has made this asinine warehousing so costly to taxpayers. Horses do not harm the land and there is plenty of room for them if the freeloading cattlemen would get their cattle off the horses land. There is not one reason for even one of our wild western horses to be anywhere except their rightful lands. It would not cost the taxpayers anything if our wild western horses were left alone in their mountains and meadows and let the natural order of life and death take hold. But, of course, once again, man’s interference DOI, BLM, Fish & Game, National Forestry [every agency involved with animals] has botched nature by catering to the hunters. There is nothing natural about nature anymore and these government agencies continue to ‘interfere’ with either the same lies for reasons for they make up a new lie. (continued)

Sharon Jacobs-Salinas    
Texas  |  April, 14, 2013 at 12:49 PM

@ Craig - Not one of us would be paying a red cent on these unnecessary, expensive roundups and costly warehousing. There is no rhyme or reason to what these corrupt agencies are doing; it certainly is not for the betterment of western wild horses.

Sharon Jacobs-Salins    
Texas  |  April, 14, 2013 at 12:57 PM

@ Craig - Cattle and sheep ruin and desecrate the ranges, not our wild western horses. The land cannot support all the 10’s of thousands of cattle and sheep let loose to graze the lands of the horses for freeloading cattlemen. Have you considered the tax revenue lost because of this?[continued]

Sharon Jacobs-Salinas    
Texas  |  April, 14, 2013 at 01:02 PM

@ Craig - If you believe otherwise, you know nothing about horses. I recommend you read a non-fiction book entitled ‘The Wild Horse Conspiracy’ by Craig Downer. Unlike the DOI/BLM who fabricate so many lies and propaganda to the point it is embarrassing to watch/hear not only the employees, but the Powers-That-Be stumble over their own words; unable to give straight answers because they do not have a clue who said what, when, why or how, Mr. Downer simply lays out the true facts. You will find wealth of information; facts based on science and knowledge about our wild western horses is in this book. If you want facts, I dare you to read the book.

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