With official signing of a bilateral trade agreement between the U.S. and Russia, the U.S. beef has regained access to the Russian market, effective immediately pending a plant audit tour by Russian inspectors.

After site visits, the market will immediately open to U.S. boneless beef, bone-in beef and beef variety meats from cattle under 30 months of age with an approved export certificate, reports the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. The second step in the re-opening process should come in May 2007 when the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) General Assembly makes its final decision on the U.S. risk-status for BSE.

Pending the determination of the U.S. as an OIE-designated controlled-risk or negligible-risk country, Russia will reopen to all U.S. beef and beef products from cattle of all ages with the removal of OIE designated specified risk materials.

Previously, Russia was the largest export market for U.S. beef livers. In 2003, Russia was the fifth-largest export market for U.S. beef in terms of quantity, importing more than 140 million lbs. of U.S. beef and beef variety meats valued at over $53 million.

For more details on this agreement, go to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative online at: www.ustr.gov.
-- NCBA news release