(Corrects to add dropped word “not” in second paragraph)
By Theopolis Waters
CHICAGO, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Russia wants U.S. pork and beef exported to that country to be tested and certified free of the feed additive ractopamine, the U.S. Meat Export Federation said on Friday.
USMEF said that since the U.S. Department of Agriculture did not have a 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.
The federation said that more than 210 shipping containers of U.S. pork and beef valued at more than $20 million were currently on their way to Russia.
“...this new requirement effectively means that the Russian market will be closed to pork and beef exports beginning this Saturday (December 8),” the federation said in an email to members that was obtained by Reuters.
USMEF spokesman Joe Schuele confirmed the email.
“The deadline is concerning because of an inability to meet this paperwork requirement,” said Schuele.
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 advisor Michael Froman were expected to travel to Moscow next week to press the Russian government to postpone the implementation of its requirement.
The Russian move comes on the heels of the U.S. Senate approving legislation to punish Russian human rights violators as part of a broader bill to expand bilateral trade.
Commerce Department data showed that 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 pounds. Russia is the sixth biggest buyer of U.S. pork. (Reporting by Theopolis Waters; Editing by Dale Hudson and Andrew Hay)