USMEF adds that the impact of losing the Russian market will be about $800 million for the U.S. meat industry – roughly $15 per head for cattle and $4 per head for hogs.
China adds another dimension to debate
Although it remains closed to U.S. beef, China in 2012 purchased nearly 16% of all U.S. pork exports by volume, accounting for more than $704 million of U.S. product, USMEF says, which translates to about $4.75 per head for variety meat alone and closer to $7 per head when muscle cuts are included. Like Russia, China pays a premium for items that are undervalued by other markets.
China and Russia join other countries that have similar ractopamine restrictions, such as the EU and Taiwan. These regulations, USMEF says, brings into clear focus the dilemma that arises when U.S. support of science-based trade and meeting the demands of our customers collide with a foreign country's non-science-based import requirements.
Industry searches for middle ground
In the days and weeks leading up to the Russian market closure, the meat industry worked closely with the U.S. government to find a way to preserve access to the market by pressing Russia to adopt a science-based standard for beta agonists. At the same time, the industry also asked USDA to develop a program for certifying residue-free exports.
This two-track approach reflected the industry's continued commitment to safe, effective production technologies and global trading rules that set science as the foundation for health standards, USMEF says, but it also reflected the industry's commitment to supplying markets with the products they demand.
"We remain hopeful that a way can be found to resume beef and pork exports to Russia but, for the foreseeable future, this is likely to be possible only if the U.S. and Russian governments can agree on a program under which USDA will certify beta agonist residue-free exports," USMEF says in the issue report.
USMEF notes that Russia's ban is a reminder that if the U.S. meat export industry is to succeed in a competitive market, it will be necessary to make hard decisions.
"Some of these decisions could require compromises that none of us like, but increasingly we are learning that this is an inevitable consequence of participating in a growing, lucrative and complicated global market," USMEF says.