June 26, 2008


New Canadian meat certificates improve access to Russian pork

Enhanced security features on Canadian meat certificates played an important role recently in improving Canada's access to Russian pork markets, federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said Tuesday (June 25, 2008).


Ritz was in Russia to participate in a meeting of the Russia-Canada Agriculture Working group of the Intergovernmental Economic Commission.


Ritz said the illegal copying of Canadian meat certificates for the Russian black market had been the cause of a temporary stoppage of Canadian pork shipments into Russia.


Over the winter, Canadian and Russian officials met to discuss the creation of an impenetrable meat certificate using enhanced security features.


The system have since been designed and implemented with favourable results. Canadian authorities are also looking at using the system in other agricultural areas.


He also spoke during the media conference about his optimism regarding future opportunities in Russia for Canadian live cattle exports.


Last year, Canada shipped CAN$14 million worth of live beef and dairy cattle to Russia. Given Russian demand for "top-quality Canadian beef and dairy animals", there was "tremendous opportunity" for growth, he added.


Canada exported US$260 million worth of agriculture and agri-food products to Russia in 2007, an increase of 160 percent since 2005.


In 2007, Russia was the world's 11th-largest importer of agri-food and seafood products, importing close to US$28 billion worth of agricultural products


Ritz will travel to Japan next, where he will meet with government officials to discuss the possibility of market access for bone-in cuts of beef from animals under 30 months old as well as market access for beef from animals over 30 months of age.


He said he hopes to convince Japanese officials that Canadian beef products should be allowed the same access as US beef products.


Tuesday's announcement of Canada's 13 th case of mad cow disease in British Columbia is not expected to affect talks.


Ritz said Canada will retain is controlled status as the country remains well under the allowable annual amount of mad-cow occurrences.


"We are allowed a dozen cases in a calendar year and we just passed a dozen over six calendar years, so our status continues to be controlled, the same status as the US," he said.

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