Sen. Chuck Grassley, (R- Iowa), Sen. Ben Nelson, (D-Neb.), and 26 other U.S. senators, are urging the top U.S. trade official to work to lift Russian trade barriers to U.S. pork products.

“Russia’s unjustified position against U.S. pork has blocked products from plants that account for 60 percent of U.S. pork production capacity,” Grassley said.  “Russia wants to join the World Trade Organization.  One of the issues Russia needs to address before joining is its unwarranted barriers to U.S. pork.”

The Grassley-Nelson letter to United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk outlines two major barriers from Russia to U.S. pork.  The first is Russia’s unilateral lowering of the amount of U.S. pork it allows to be imported, cutting the previously agreed-upon amount by about half.  The second is Russia’s use of sanitary restrictions to limit U.S. pork exports to Russia.  The Russian restrictions are not supported by science or valid risk assessments. 

The letter urges the trade representative to work toward encouraging Russia to ease the unwarranted restrictions and abide by commitments as a precursor to joining the World Trade Organization. The United States was able to obtain commitments from China and Vietnam to overcome similar obstacles as part of those countries’ accession to the World Trade Organization.  About 25 percent of all U.S. pork is produced in Iowa. 

Grassley is a member of the Agriculture Committee and former chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Finance, with jurisdiction over international trade. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, (D-Mich.), chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, also signed the bipartisan letter. The text of the latest letter is available here.

The letter follows a similar letter that Grassley hand-delivered to top Russian officials on a trip to Russia last month. 

Source: Sen. Chuck Grassley