EU loses meat markets as Russia closes frontier

The Foot and Mouth crisis has forced the government of Russia to close its frontiers to imports from the European Union, according to reports in the Portuguese Press. It is reported that Russia is to close its frontiers to all EU imports of animal origin. However, it is also reported that “the same is not the case with the other 12 ex-Soviet Republics”. The source ignores the fact that there were 15 Soviet Republics but the point is that if other members of the CIS are importing infected meat from the EU, the crisis could still spread to Russia through these third parties. Russia is reportedly also creating a buffer zone in the south of the country to prevent infection spreading northwards from Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The ban on EU meat is apparently to last for 21 days. The consequences of this could be serious for the EU since if the figures quoted are correct, Russia will have to establish contracts elsewhere to cover domestic demand for meat. It is reported that Russia last year produced 1.15 million tonnes of meat, against an internal demand for 3.45 million tonnes, meaning that .30 million tonnes had to be imported. If stocks are low, Russia will have to look for other sources to avoid price rises. Russia vaccinates its cattle, a practice which many in the EU are now calling for because if all countries adopted this practice, it would be possible to bring this disease under control or even to eradicate it.