A Russian ban on U.S. poultry took effect Sunday. Trade negotiations started Monday, and the issue is not likely to be resolved soon.
Both American and Russian media outlets have linked the ban to steel import tariffs imposed by the U.S. earlier this month. Lending credence to this argument is the almost equal offset in export losses for each country of around 600 million dollars.
But, both U.S. and Russian governments deny a link between steel and poultry. The Russians claim the ban on U.S. poultry is because of a failure to adhere to a 1996 agreement outlining meat quality standards. The U.S. calls the ban simple protectionism based on faulty science.
At the forefront of the Russian arguments is meat cleanliness, an issue exacerbated by recent salmonella laden shipments from the U-S. Industry spokesmen from the U-S claim the contamination was on the surface of the meat and, therefore, is not a problem.
Also at issue is the of use human antibiotics in chicken feed. Russian regulations forbid such practices though no evidence that any U-S poultry fed in this manner has ever entered Russia. Prior to the ban, the U-S government produced an 800-page document to address the issue. The tome supports the safety of current U-S production practices with scientific data. That document is still being translated by the Russian government.
The head of the Russian Agricultural Ministry has called the 1996 agreement obsolete and is also pushing for the right to inspect U-S processing facilities when U-S exports contain inferior quality goods or lack proper documentation.
(slug: Russian Market place)
The ban is likely to have an impact on both U-S producers and Russian consumers. Seventy-percent of all chicken consumed in Russia comes from the U-S and Russian grown chicken is more expensive than U-S imports. Despite the economic impact, some Russian lawmakers are calling the ban a move toward self-sufficiency claiming Russian poultry producers could make up the production difference in less than two years.