A team of veterinary officials from Uzbekistan was in the United States this week for an educational visit covering all aspects of the U.S. beef and pork supply chain. The delegation included Abdurasul Boltayev, head of Uzbekistan’s department of veterinary inspections and its main state veterinary department, Rustam Khasanov, head of the Tashkent City veterinary department and Gulnora Bobojanova, who oversees the Tashkent City veterinary laboratory. The group was accompanied by Yuri Barutkin, the USMEF representative based in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The week began in Washington, D.C., with meetings covering the authority, procedures and practices of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Foreign Agricultural Service, as the group learned about the distinct regulatory responsibilities of each agency.
The delegation then moved on to Des Moines, Iowa, where meetings with senior staff members of the National Pork Board covered a broad range of issues impacting the U.S. pork industry. The topics included an explanation of the Pork Quality Assurance Plus Program, research being conducted on PEDV and other swine diseases, and other measures undertaken by the industry to ensure a secure, high-quality pork supply.
The group’s time in Iowa also included a tour of the Iowa State University Diagnostic Laboratory in Ames and the Tyson Foods pork plant in Storm Lake. They also visited several supermarkets to see how U.S. pork and beef are packaged, merchandised and displayed at the retail level.
The visit concluded in Colorado, where the delegation toured the JBS beef plant in Greeley, the Five Rivers Cattle Feeding facility in Kersey and the Aristocrat Angus Ranch cow-calf operation near Platteville. Joining the group for this segment was Cheyenne Dixon, USMEF technical services manager.
With a population of nearly 30 million, Uzbekistan is the largest market in Central Asia. It also has a diverse and rapidly developing economy, with annual GDP growth averaging about 8 percent over the past nine years.
Because Uzbekistan’s population is more than 90 percent Muslim, pork is consumed in smaller quantities than beef, lamb or poultry. It is temporarily closed to U.S. pork due to PEDV-related restrictions. Uzbekistan was the 15th largest volume market for EU beef exports last year at 4,324 metric tons (mt), valued at $22 million. EU pork exports totaled 2,940 mt valued at $4.9 million. Brazilian beef and pork have also made inroads in the market. Last year Brazilian beef exports to Uzbekistan totaled 636 mt valued at $1.95 million – up 80 percent from 2013. Pork exports were 179 mt valued at $544,000 – up from zero just two years earlier.
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