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Letter to US Trade Representative Ron Kirk: Russia Banning US Beef, Pork and Turkey

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Reps. Bruce Braley (D-IA) and Lee Terry (R-NE) today are urging U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to take aggressive action to enforce Russia's compliance with World Trade Organization (WTO) agriculture trade standards in the wake of a recent ban on American meat imports.

In December, Russia announced that it would begin enforcing a zero-tolerance standard on imported meat for trace amounts of ractopamine, a feed additive used extensively in the United States and other countries. Because of its severity, the new policy effectively bans American beef, pork, and turkey from Russia.

Braley said, "Russia is using ractopamine as nothing more than an excuse to ban US meat imports and shield their own producers from competition. Russia's actions clearly violate international trade agreements and the United States needs to take a more aggressive stance to reverse this egregiously unfair policy. In the interest of free and fair trade, Russia needs to immediately reverse their policy."

Terry said, "With 27 other countries safely importing American meat, the decision by Russia to ban American meat products clearly isn't based on sound science. Whatever their reason, they must reverse this unfair trade practice. I urge Representative Kirk to do everything he can to ensure that America's farmers and ranchers have access to fair and open international trade markets."

If the Russian sanctions stand, United States livestock producers stand to lose an estimated $600 million in annual sales.

The United States Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of ractopamine in livestock for more than a decade. Today, 27 countries -- including Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Canada -- allow ractopamine and agree that it is safe for human consumption.

Full text of the Braley-Terry letter follows; a copy can be downloaded at the following link: http://1.usa.gov/13bnTIh

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February 25, 2013

The Honorable Ron Kirk
United States Trade Representative
Executive Office of the President
600 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20508

Dear Ambassador Kirk:

As Representatives for Nebraska and Iowa, we write to express strong concerns regarding efforts by the Russian Federation to restrict imports of beef, pork and turkey from the United States. Not only is this effort contrary to World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations, it will cost the United States meat industry approximately $600 million, and will have a devastating impact on rural communities across the nation.

On December 7, 2012, Russia announced it would begin enforcing a zero-tolerance standard for trace amounts of ractopamine, an important feed additive for domestic livestock production. This decision contradicts generally accepted scientific conclusions and Russia's obligations as a member of the WTO. The imposition of a zero-tolerance standard is inconsistent with the WTO's Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement and is, in practice, an import ban. Following the announcement made late last month, Russia has now effectively banned U.S. beef, pork and turkey imports as it imposes its new zero-tolerance standard. With this trade worth $600 million annually, Russia's standard is an egregious trade barrier with no apparent scientific merit.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of ractopamine in livestock in 2000, over a decade ago. Today, 27 countries, including Japan, South Korea, Australia and Canada, have reached the same conclusion that meat from animals fed this beta-agonist is safe for human consumption. Most notably, on July 6, 2012, the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CODEX) adopted maximum residue levels (MRL) for ractopamine, resulting in a scientifically-based, international standard for trace amounts of this feed additive.

The United States must do everything it can to defend its rights in both the WTO and CODEX and prevent non-science-based trading practices from other trading partners, including Russia. Further, we must demonstrate to Russia that its newfound commitment to WTO membership includes adherence to science-based standards, such as the CODEX MRL for ractopamine.

With your swift action and use of all enforcement tools available, it is our sincere hope that the issues surrounding Russia's import ban can begin to be resolved, to provide a stable and predictable trading environment for U.S. livestock producers and exporters. We look forward to working with you to resolve this critical issue in a timely manner.

Sincerely,

Bruce Braley
Lee Terry


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