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Russia bans 19 US poultry producers

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Associated Press / August 29, 2008
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MILWAUKEE - The nation's chicken producers faced more bad news yesterday as Russia said that 19 US poultry producers will be barred from exporting their products there, a move that would deprive them access to a key market.

Meat producers are grappling with high costs for grain and fuel and an oversupply of meat that is keeping prices down. They're focusing on exports, which are seen as key to offsetting domestic weakness and they're benefiting because of the weak US dollar.

Russia is an important market for many poultry producers, including the nation's largest chicken producer, Pilgrim's Pride Inc., as well as Sanderson Farms Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc., the world's largest meat company.

Shares of many meat producers, including top hog producer Smithfield Foods Inc., tumbled yesterday on worries about potential cuts by Russia to chicken and pork imports. On Wednesday, Russia's top agriculture official was quoted as saying import quotas could be cut hundreds of thousands of tons, with Russian producers making up the shortfall.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told CNN the unidentified US producers ignored warnings from Russian inspectors who examined companies last year.

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