Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ben Nelson (D-NE) and 26 other senators are urging the top U.S. trade official to seek the removal of Russian trade barriers to U.S. pork products.

“Russia’s unjustified position against U.S. pork has blocked products from plants that account for 60% of U.S. pork production capacity,” Grassley says. “Russia wants to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). One of the issues Russia needs to address before joining is its unwarranted barriers to U.S. pork.”

The Grassley-Nelson letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk outlines two major barriers to U.S. pork exports to Russia. The first is Russia’s unilateral lowering of the amount of U.S. pork it allows to be imported, cutting the previously agreed upon amount in half. The second is Russia’s use of sanitary restrictions to limit U.S pork shipments to Russia. The Russian restrictions are not supported by science nor valid risk assessments.

The Senate letter urges the trade representative to encourage Russia to ease the unwarranted restrictions and abide by commitments as a precursor to joining the WTO.

Grassley is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and former chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Finance, with jurisdiction over international trade.