Russian chicken ban catches U.S. off guard

WASHINGTON - Russia, the biggest foreign buyer of American chicken, halted poultry imports Thursday, catching U.S. officials by surprise.

"All of this was done without any prior notice or consultation," Agriculture Department spokesman Ed Loyd said.

Russia's Agriculture Ministry said it canceled all import licenses for poultry because of violations of import regulations. Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said the problem was temporary and that new licenses would be issued within two weeks.

"This is a technical issue, and I hope everything will be done quickly, within 10 or 14 days," Gordeyev was quoted as saying by Interfax News Agency. "We have not stopped issuing licenses, we are simply replacing old documents with new ones."

Russian poultry farmers have demanded import restrictions and demonstrated last week in Moscow. Gordeyev this month announced a 30 percent cut in imports to help farmers cope with consumer worries about bird flu.

Russia accounts for about 30 percent of U.S. poultry sold abroad. Leg quarters made up most of the 1.7 billion pounds Russia purchased from the U.S. last year.

Source: Houston Chronicle
calendar icon 28 April 2006
clock icon 1 minute read
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