Last year was the best ever for U.S. beef exports to Russia ($307 million), and a very strong year for U.S. pork exports ($282 million). But trade slowed dramatically toward the end of 2012, as Russia stepped up enforcement of its zero-tolerance policy for residues of the livestock feed additive ractopamine.

Despite diplomatic efforts to address this issue, the Russian market formally closed to U.S. pork and beef on February 11.   

Thad Lively, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for trade access, explains that USDA officials have been working closely with the U.S. pork and beef industries in recent weeks to develop a plan for resuming exports to this important market.

Great care had to be taken, however, to ensure that the proposed program was feasible and economically viable before it was presented to Russian veterinary officials. Though some final details must still be worked out, Lively expects this process to move forward soon.