WASHINGTON -- A dispute over health standards that seriously disrupted exports of American chicken products to Russia, the biggest foreign market for U.S. poultry, has been resolved, the Bush administration says.
Negotiators for both countries reached agreement on a new veterinary certificate that addressed concerns raised by Moscow, Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman, Commerce Secretary Don Evans and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick announced Friday.
The dispute had disrupted sales of U.S. chicken products in Russia since March, adversely affecting farmers in 38 states.
"This agreement comes at a critical time for the U.S. poultry industry and will allow trade flows to resume with much greater certainty," Veneman said in a statement.
The U.S. poultry industry praised the agreement, which addressed concerns the Russian government had raised about how American chickens were being processed. The U.S. industry maintained throughout the discussions that the chicken exported to Russia met the same stringent health standards as that sold in the United States.
The National Chicken Council said that last year Russia imported 1.07 million metric tons of U.S. chicken parts, worth $630 million, and 30,780 metric tons of turkey worth $26.5 million. The exports to Russia represented 8 percent of all the chicken produced in the United States and 2 percent of all the turkey.
Russia on March 1 imposed a ban on further chicken shipments from the United States because of health issues. It ended the embargo on April 15 but imposed other restrictions involving import permits that had severely limited U.S. sales in the country. Through the first six months of this year, Russia's imports of U.S. chicken products were down by 29 percent from the same period a year ago.