By Joanna Newman

RECENT developments in the international arena have cheered Americas struggling pig producers.

The food-aid programme to Russia is still on course despite escalating tensions over the Balkan crisis.

After months of rumours, this past week finally saw a signed deal with the US Department of Agriculture to ship 50,000t of donated US pork to Russia.

Shipments will probably be spread over three or four months depending on the logistics of distribution.

US pig farmers support the programme as a way to alleviate severe oversupply at home.

However, revelations of 21 million lbs of contaminated US pork and poultry being used for export to Russia and South Korea caused a stir in the market on Monday and put some pressure on prices.

Meanwhile, recent progress in Sino-US trade talks has paved the way to lifting import restrictions on US pork, thereby opening up a huge new market for US exporters.

The US currently exports only $2 billion of agricultural products to China a year.

The Chicago April lean hogs futures contract settled on Tuesday (13 April) at 41.95¢/lb (57p/kg), little changed from 41.1¢ (56p) a week ago.

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