February 13, 2004

 

 

Russia Set To Extend US Poultry Ban

 

Russia is prepared to extend the ban on US poultry if the bird flu virus first discovered in Delaware spins out of control, a Cabinet member said Thursday.

 

Russia, the U.S.' largest poultry export market, so far has banned only imports from Delaware, but Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Gordeyev said that the temporary ban could be expanded from the eastern state to the entire U.S.

 

"If the American authorities don't take the situation as a whole under control, we don't exclude halting poultry shipments from the entire United States," Gordeyev said at a news conference, according to the Interfax news agency.

 

He said that a temporary ban could be expanded to states bordering Delaware as an interim measure.

 

Gordeyev added that the Russian government was discussing with U.S. officials whether the avian flu outbreak could be localized to Delaware.

 

Russia has already introduced a ban on poultry from 11 Asian nations hit by bird flu.

 

Russia, the single largest foreign market for U.S. poultry, agreed last autumn to ease import quotas on U.S. chicken, pork and beef. In 2002, Russian inspectors had found a dozen U.S. poultry plants in violation of food safety standards and refused to accept products from them.

 

Russia's import cap on poultry this year is 1.05 million metric tons, of which about 772,000 tons is to come from the U.S.

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