The Senate this week approved by a vote of 92-4 House-passed legislation authorizing permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia and ending the application of the Jackson-Vanik law.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) was pleased with the legislation while the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) took more of a wait-and-see approach citing unscientific barriers that currently restrict U.S. pork exports to Russia. “NPPC took no position on Russia PNTR because of that country’s persistence in imposing non-science-based trade barriers such as zero tolerance on pathogens in raw products, a standard no country in the world can meet,” according to a press release from the group.

The U.S. pork industry is not realizing its full potential in exports to Russia, according to NPPC. “Because of the tremendous uncertainty in the market resulting from those ongoing unscientific barriers, only 41 percent of total U.S. pork plant capacity is eligible to export to Russia.”

Meanwhile, AFBF praised the legislation as beneficial to U.S. farmers and ranchers. “The Senate’s passage of legislation granting PNTR with Russia will ensure the U.S. benefits from Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization and remains competitive in that market,” according to an AFBF press release. “Russia’s membership in the WTO will provide significant commercial opportunities for U.S. agriculture, including increased sales of poultry, pork and beef.”

Although U.S. pork exports to Russia for January through September have increased compared with the same period last year, exports to that country would reach over $400 million if Russia removed all of its sanitary-phytosanitary barriers, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes.