Key Topic – Russia Pork Access
closed to U.S. pork in early February 2013 due to its policy on beta agonists. In early March 2014, based on a new USDA program for pork exports from animals not fed beta agonists, Russia restored eligibility for two U.S. pork slaughter plants – and in July 2014, exports to Russia rebounded to nearly $50 million. However, on Aug. 7, 2014, pork trade with Russia was suspended due to an embargo on imports of most pork items announced by the Russian government in retaliation for economic sanctions stemming from the conflict in Ukraine. Pork fat and some pork offal items were not included in the embargo, so those items can still be shipped from eligible plants. But since the embargo took effect, shipments have declined dramatically, and Russia recently extended the ban through June 2016 and expanded it to include imports from Ukraine.
The major exporting countries included in the embargo were the U.S., Canada, and the EU. But Russia had already suspended pork imports from the EU (historically its largest supplier) in January 2014 due to African swine fever (ASF) in EU member countries Lithuania, Latvia and Poland. Canada was most impacted, as Russia had become its third-largest export market behind the U.S. and Japan. Losing Russia as a buyer of North American pork quickly translated into dramatically lower U.S. ham prices.