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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Experts Head to U.S. To Inspect Chicken

A delegation of veterinary inspectors flew to the United States on Monday to inspect the quality of poultry exported to Russia and make sure a raft of veterinary service demands are being met, the Agriculture Ministry said.

"The American side has informed us that all demands have been fulfilled. We should check," said Yevgeny Nepoklonov, deputy head of the Agriculture Ministry's veterinary service and the head of the four-man Russian delegation, Interfax reported.

A decision on lifting the ban would be made depending on the results of the visit, he said.

The United States announced Sunday that it has agreed to adopt tougher controls on veterinary documents and take measures against companies that exported chicken containing salmonella. It said the ban would be lifted by next week.

Russia imposed the ban on poultry March 10, citing concerns about sanitary conditions on U.S. farms and the use of antibiotics and feed additives.

After nine days of negotiations that started March 11, the veterinary service drew up a protocol with a list of demands to be met before Russia would lift the ban. Chief veterinary inspector Mikhail Kravchuk signed the protocol, which was then handed to a visiting U.S. delegation.

The U.S. team, however, did not sign the document for more than a week.

The Russian side insisted the protocol be signed by Kravchuk's U.S. counterpart, while the U.S. delegation wanted the document signed by U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow, said Vladimir Fisin, vice president of the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences and head of the Russian Poultry Union.

Although the United States has three chief veterinary inspectors, it was Vershbow who eventually signed the protocol.

According to the protocol, "after the U.S. side fully complies with the actions ... the Russian veterinary service will lift the temporary ban on U.S. poultry meat exports by April 10, 2002."

The protocol demands that 14 U.S. poultry producers found to have exported meat containing salmonella be barred from exporting to Russia. It also requires the United States to create a new certificate verified with a stamp and signed by a veterinary inspector.

Further discussion on antibiotic and other preservatives are to be held, the protocol says, after which a new bilateral agreement on poultry imports will be drawn up, replacing an older agreement signed in 1996.

The new agreement could be signed within two months, Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said Monday.

The agreement is to "contain additional control under use of antibiotics and other chemicals while feeding and growing poultry," Intefax quoted Gordeyev as saying. He added that feed used by U.S. farmers must be registered in Russia.

Nepoklonov said the Russian delegation would also inspect two U.S. ports from which poultry is exported. He said that it has not yet been determined how long the delegation will stay in the United States.