Azerbaijan opens ports to live Canadian cattle

Increased interest from Azeri cattle breeders in Canadian genetics has led Azerbaijan to open its ports to live Canadian cattle, the federal government reports.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and International Trade Minister Ed Fast on Wednesday announced that the eastern European country — which has never allowed market access for Canadian cattle — has agreed to new export conditions effective immediately.

"This will be a totally new market for the Canadian genetics industry, and we expect that the first potential Azeri live cattle buyers will be in Canada next month," Rick McRonald, executive director of the Canadian Livestock Genetics Association (CLGA), said in the government’s release.

The new export conditions could result in initial exports of 2,000 dairy heifers, which at an estimated $2,500 each would translate to $5 million in sales.

Azerbaijan already accepts Canadian beef, pork, poultry and pulses, the federal government said. Canadian agri-food exports to Azerbaijan averaged more than $2.1 million per year in the past three years, with annual pork exports alone averaging $1.7 million.

"This new access enables Canadian farmers to capitalize on the significant growth occurring in Azerbaijan’s agricultural sector and strengthen their foothold in the Caucasus region," the government said.

In this case, the country’s industry came looking for high-quality Canadian dairy genetics, a government spokesperson said Wednesday.

"Growing interest"

The announcement comes in the wake of the signing last Thursday of a memorandum of understanding on agricultural co-operation with Serbia, which the CLGA said could lead to over $6 million in additional exports of livestock genetics to that country by the end of 2013.

The agreement with Serbia also calls for an exchange of agricultural information, technology and products with Canada.
"Canadian associations and companies are active in Serbia, and this MOU will help pave the way for further business and co-operation," Ritz said in a separate release last week.

"Canada recognizes Serbian companies and farmers have a growing interest in our high-quality livestock technology and equipment, and where there is demand, we have supply."

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