WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to focus on lowering Russian barriers to U.S. agricultural products including beef, pork and poultry during a trip to Russia next week.
“U.S. farmers deserve to be treated fairly by our international trading partners. You have an opportunity next week to continue advancing that case for our farmers,” Grassley wrote to Under Secretary Michael Scuse of the Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Scuse will lead a mission to promote U.S. agricultural exports to Russia, Dec. 3 to Dec. 7. Representatives from the states of Idaho, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Kansas, as well as 23 American companies, will attend.
Grassley said the United States has missed key opportunities to address Russia’s unscientific barriers to U.S. agricultural products including beef, pork and poultry. A prime opportunity was prior to Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization. As Congress moves closer to allowing Russia to have Permanent Normal Trade Relations status, the Obama administration needs to keep the pressure on Russia to eliminate safety standards not supported by sound science, Grassley said.
As the U.S. Department of Agriculture notes, agricultural trade between the United States and Russia is significant. The two-way trade was valued at roughly $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2012, with American farm exports accounting for 97 percent of the total. Last year, U.S. beef, pork and poultry exports collectively ranked second only to aircraft engines in total U.S. export value to Russia.
The text of today’s letter is available here. A June letter to President Obama from Grassley and 33 other senators on Russian barriers to U.S. agricultural products is available here.