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Poultry Sector to Become Self-Sufficient in Three Years

by 5m Editor
27 January 2010, at 9:24am

RUSSIA - Russia, which has effectively banned US chickens, plans to stop importing poultry altogether within three years, the country's farm minister said, setting a new deadline for becoming self-sufficient in that sector.

Russia's billion-dollar drive to cut dependency on chicken imports has concerned major foreign suppliers, including the United States, which earned about $800 million selling poultry to its biggest export market the year before last.

Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik said Russia was importing 780,000 tonnes a year of poultry meat. This is the amount set in a 2010 quota. "Within three years, we must cut this to zero," she was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the ministry.

Russia effectively halted US poultry imports when it banned meat treated with chlorine from 19 January. Moscow insists the United States should observe its food safety rules, while US critics have said the bans could be politically motivated.

Talks between Russian watchdog bodies and visiting US officials last week ended without any commitment from Moscow to reopen its market, according to TradeArabia, citing Reuters. Though more negotiations are planned, Russia has already moved to secure alternative supplies.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, speaking after the US ban came into force, said Russia should not only cover its own domestic needs but export poultry meat in the next four to five years.

First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov, who oversees the farm sector, said in April 2009 that Moscow aimed to become self-sufficient in poultry meat and pork - and even start to exporting meat - as soon as 2012.

The Russian Poultry Breeders Union, a powerful industry lobby, as well as US experts said at the time that Russia would still be likely to need poultry imports after 2012.

Ms Skrynnik said the government planned to prepare federal and regional programmes to develop domestic poultry breeding in the period to 2015.

She said only 22 of Russia's 83 regions were self-sufficient in poultry meat. Poultry production in 2009 rose by 13 per cent over 2008, she said, without providing tonnages.