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Russia Gains Taste For U. S. Beef

Russia may not like U. S. chicken or pork, but it likes U. S. beef and has bought over 6,000 tons of it this year, a nearly thirtyfold increase from 2009.

This has been good news for U. S. beef and cattle producers, who are enjoying huge profits for the first time in nearly two years due in part to strong exports to Russia and elsewhere.

Russia purchases this year have largely been higher-priced “muscle” cuts from the round and chuck portions of the carcass, instead of the lower-priced beef liver it bought previously.

Industry sources warned an import quota in Russia could soon trigger higher duties on the beef and slow sales.

The increase in beef to Russia occurs as that country has banned U. S. chicken because of a chlorine rinse used here and drastically reduced purchases of U. S. pork amid concerns about an antibiotic in the meat.

“They are switching to other products, especially beef, in face of their self-imposed problems with chicken and pork,” said Jim Robb, economist with the Livestock Marketing Information Center.

China Now Taking U. S. Pork

China has said it is now accepting U. S. pork, after agreeing two months ago to lift a year-long ban on the meat amid worries about H1N1 flu, the National Pork Producers Council said May 14.

“In March, the United States and China reached an agreement to reopen the Chinese market to U. S. pork imports, but it took China until now to begin accepting product,” the NPPC said in a statement.

The U. S. pork industry exported nearly 400,000 tonnes of pork worth nearly $690 million to China and Hong Kong in 2008, making it the No. 3 destination for U. S. pork, the NPPC said.

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