Russia and the United States could reach an agreement this week on restoring U.S. poultry supplies to the Russian market, the news agency Interfax reported on Wednesday.

Reuters reports that the agency, citing Gennady Onishchenko, head of Russian consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, reported that both sides are finalising details by electronic means and could meet again soon to sign an agreement.

Onishchenko declined to make a prediction on whether U.S. poultry supplies would return to full volume this spring if an agreement is reached, the agency said.

Source: Reuters

NCBA chief sees potential for beef in Chinese market

China represents a potential $100 billion market for beef, while the Japanese market could increase by a $1 billion if it were to relax the age limit on the U.S. beef that it accepts, the head of the largest U.S. cattle group told Reuters reporters on Tuesday.

"You look at China, it is worth $100 billion of opportunity for growth. It is absolutely significant," Forrest Roberts, chief executive of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said at the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit.

In 2009, China and Hong Kong combined bought about $85.5 million worth of U.S. beef, or about 3 percent of the total, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

Pork and chicken are the primary meats consumed in China, but Roberts said U.S. beef has a chance of gaining market share.

"We feel we have an infrastructure in this country that produces a very efficient product of a very high quality. We feel like that we can add value, not only to adding protein to their diet, but also at a very affordable price," he said.

Beef trimmings, ground beef and edible organs would do well in the Chinese market, he said, and steaks and filets could succeed there later as well.

If Japan were to expand the age limit to 30 months it could add about $1 billion in revenue for the beef industry, said Roberts. The United States argues the 30-month limit would still keep consumers safe from mad cow disease.

"Japan represents what we feel, near term, is at a very minimum of a $1 billion in additional value," he said.

Source: Reuters

Senators urge Japan to lift imported beef restrictions

Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mon.), the Senate Finance Committee Chairman, and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee's top Republican, have sent a letter to Japan's ambassador to Washington, calling for the country to lift "scientifically unfounded" restrictions on U.S. beef exports and to end preferential treatment for Japan Post over private competitors.

"We look forward to improved economic relations between the United States and Japan once these serious trade concerns are resolved," the letter read, reports AFP.

In their letter to Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, the US senators underlined that "millions of Americans consume US beef from cattle of all ages every day, so the safety of this product cannot seriously be in doubt."

"This scientifically unfounded barrier to imports of US beef is causing economic hardship for cattle and beef producers in Montana and Iowa," two major US farm states, they wrote.

"We urge Japan to base its beef trade policies on science and to open its market to all US beef," they said.

The senators made a similar plea on behalf of US-produced, bovine-origin gelatin for human consumption, condemning Japan's restrictions as "scientifically unjustified" and urging Tokyo to open its markets.

Baucus and Grassley also expressed worry about "preferential treatment" Japan Post entities have received in the country's insurance, banking, and express delivery markets at the expense of private competitors.

"We urge Japan to address these concerns in its legislation so that US and other private sector suppliers receive the equal treatment that Japan's international obligations require," they wrote.

The letter came roughly 10 days after another US senator, Republican Mike Johanns, condemned Japan's "blatantly unfair" restrictions on US beef in a meeting with Fujisaki.

Source: AFP