The U.S. cattle industry has regained a major export source. Russia will begin imports of U.S. cattle born on or after the 1997 ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban.

"Russia's decision demonstrates our trading partners' confidence in our ability to effectively protect animal health and food safety," said Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer. "This decision opens up a new market for U.S. livestock producers, and we are pleased that such an important trading partner is looking to the United States to help establish a significant livestock market."

On Aug. 4, 1997, the FDA banned the used of ruminant protein products in ruminant feeds. The ruminant feed ban, a preventive measure aimed at eliminating diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), banned the feeding of restricted animal material to ruminants. Ruminants are a mammalian classification that chew the cud, including cattle, sheep, goats, deer, and camels.

Russia’s livestock herd has declined for approximately the past 15 years, and the reduction has been a catalyst for the turn toward the U.S. livestock industry. The Russian market for live animal imports is valued at $300 million, a substantial opportunity for U.S. exporters.

The reversal in Russian importation policy extends to breeding cattle, bovine embryos; breeding, fattening, and slaughter swine; and breeding and sport horses.