Russia may limit U.S. cattle imports due to transport breaches

Russia may impose temporary restrictions to the import of U.S. cattle by sea because of violations in transport procedures, which is leading to the death of the animals.

The Russian agriculture watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor said in a press release that the United States has not provided the Russian veterinary service with information on securing animal safety when delivering animals by sea to Russia. Rosselkhoznadzor has asked for the information three times.

The situation with the import of U.S. cattle remains very complex, the Russian veterinary service said. During transportation from Novorossiysk to farms, 59 heads of cattle died out of 3,314 heads arriving from the United States on board the Pearl of Para vessel. During quarantine, another 160 died and 108 had to be killed. In addition, there are plans to slaughter another at least 665 head of cattle due to extreme depletion. Thus, Russian companies will fail to receive more than 1,000 head of cattle.

Russian companies have told Rosselkhoznadzor about other cases when violations were allowed when supplying U.S. cattle to Russia on unsuitable vessels and also in refurbished containers, leading to deaths and reduced productivity. All this has meant significant financial losses for Russia.

Rosselkhoznadzor says the United States is violating the 2011 OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code, with regard transport by sea, and also WTO regulations.

Immediate consultations with the Animal and Public Health Information System (APHIS) are required, which Rosselkhoznadzor already requested in August. At the meeting, an agreement must be made on a list of measures to strengthen controls over transport by sea. A certification of vessels for transporting animals to Russia must be established by a joint commission of APHIS inspectors and Rosselkhoznadzor. The U.S. State Veterinarian must supervise the transfer of cattle to destination ports in Russia, Rosselkhoznadzor says.

The agriculture watchdog is also asking the U.S. veterinary service to provide full information on the death of cattle aboard the Pearl of Para, indicating when, where and how the deaths occurred, how and by whom the diagnosis was made as well as information on post mortems and lab studies. Rosselkhoznadzor is asking the U.S. veterinary service to report on the location and condition of 195 head of cattle, that could not be unloaded from the vessel and which were returned in the same vessel to the United States.

"If the pertinent U.S. bodies do not adopt a constructive position, Rosselkhoznadzor will have to impose temporary restrictions on the import of U.S. cattle by sea," the watchdog said.

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