Russian authorities announced last night the country will ban frozen and chilled beef imports from Australia as of next week.
But that ban has been labelled ‘premature’ by a spokesperson from the Federal Department of Agriculture.
Beef exports to Russia were valued at $173 million over an 11-month period in 2012-2013. The trade includes higher value wagyu as well as the lesser value cuts.
It has been reported the Russian government is restricting imports due to the presence of the stimulant Trenbolone.
The department says it has been in contact with Russian authorities about their notification of a recent detection of the hormone growth promotant, and to reassure them that beef exports to Russia, under new measures brought in on 20 December 2013, are free of growth promotants.
The spokesperson says a departmental investigation “found no evidence of the use of Trenbolone in the cattle processed for the consignment in question.”
“A detailed report to Russian authorities has been submitted to outline the findings of this investigation,” the spokesperson says.
“We believe Russia’s decision to suspend imports of Australian chilled beef, before having the opportunity to fully consider the information provided by Australia, is premature.”
The spokesperson says the department is committed to further discussions with Russia to clarify the situation.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce was only informed about Russia’s beef ban by his department this morning but says it is something he has been watching closely.
“I’m obviously very disappointed, I hope it’s resolved quickly,” Mr Joyce said.
“I think it’s to do with other political circumstances and obviously the issues in Crimea would have something to do with it.”
Mr Joyce says he has not yet had a chance to speak with authorities in Russia, but he is confident other markets will fill the gap, namely Saudi Arabia, China and Japan.
“We’ll be developing other markets and making sure the product goes where it’s required,” he said.
“I genuinely believe we’ll be about to pick up the slack in other markets.”