With official signing of a bilateral trade agreement between the U.S. and Russia, U.S. beef has regained access to the Russian market, pending a plant audit tour by Russian inspectors. Eligible is U.S. boneless beef, bone-in beef and beef variety meats from cattle under 30 months of age with an approved export certificate.

A second step in the re-opening process will 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.

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