* Russia requires testing for ractopamine
* USMEF says pork, beef exports to Russia could stop
* Russia move comes after US Senate passes trade bill
* Cattle, hog futures down
By Theopolis Waters and K.T. Arasu
CHICAGO, Dec 7 U.S. pork and beef exports to
Russia could halt on Saturday following Moscow's requirement
that the meat be tested and certified free of the feed additive
ractopamine, a move analysts said smacked of political
The measure by Russia - the sixth-largest market for U.S.
beef and pork - comes on the heels of U.S. Senate approval of a
trade bill to punish Russian human rights violators as part of a
broader objective to expand bilateral commerce.
The U.S. Meat Export Federation told its members by email
that since the U.S. Department of Agriculture had no testing and
certification program in place for ractopamine, the Russian
requirement could effectively halt U.S. pork and beef exports to
the country by Saturday.
USMEF, a non-profit trade association, said more than 210
shipping containers of U.S. pork and beef valued at about $20
million were on their way to Russia.
"This seems to be in retaliation to the Senate's passage of
the trade bill with Russia ... there is certainly no doubt about
it," Rich Nelson, chief strategist at research and brokerage
company Allendale Inc, said on Friday.
He said Russia purchased 1.4 percent of U.S. pork production
and 0.6 percent of beef production, adding that any suspension
of imports from the United States would weigh on cattle and hog
futures at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
CME February hog futures were 1.15 cents, or 1.4
percent, lower at 83.3 cents per lb at 11:19 a.m. CST (1719
GMT). February live cattle futures fell 0.62 cent, or 0.5
percent, to 130.4 cents per lb.
In its email, obtained by Reuters, USMEF said: "...This new
requirement effectively means that the Russian market will be
closed to pork and beef exports beginning this Saturday
USMEF spokesman Joe Schuele confirmed the email.
"The deadline is concerning because of an inability to meet
this paperwork requirement," Schuele said.
A USDA spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
The email said chief U.S. agricultural trade negotiator Isi
Siddiqui and White House international economic affairs adviser
Michael Froman were expected to travel to Moscow next week to
press the Russian government to postpone the implementation of
Commerce Department data shows the United States has
exported 213.681 million pounds of pork to Russia so far this
year. In 2011, exports to Russia totaled 190.931 million lbs.
Russia imported 121.71 million lbs of U.S. beef and veal
between January and September. Last year, such imports totaled
USMEF data showed that U.S. beef exports to Russia in the
first nine months of 2012 were valued at $203.7 million, while
pork exports totaled about $202.9 million for the same period.
"My first inclination is how much of this is related to
geopolitics and how much of this is the Russians trying to
negotiate political issues through our pocketbooks," said Mike
Zuzolo, president of Global Commodity Analytics.
"Without a doubt, this issue is weighing on both the hogs
and cattle markets. All year long the lower-level dollar and the
strong export pace have helped underpin our situation whenever
domestic demand has weakened," he said.