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21 May 2015

Belarus seeks to boost export of farm produce to USA

WASHINGTON, 21 May (BelTA) – Belarus expects to make a breakthrough in the delivery of farm produce to the U.S. market. The country seeks to raise the delivery of its farm produce to the USA to $100 million by the end of the year, Agriculture and Food Minister of Belarus Leonid Zayats said during his working visit to the United States. At present Belarus’ export makes up $2.5 million.

The trip of the Belarusian agriculture and food minister is also a kind of breakthrough. Belarusian delegations had not visited the United States for at least ten years. During this visit Leonid Zayats met with the top officials of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Commerce, visited a number of key agricultural states. The first of its kind agreement on cooperation between Mogilev Oblast and North Dakota was signed during the visit. “We received a warm welcome everywhere,” the head of the Belarusian delegation said.

In his words, the visit is very productive. The talks in Washington focused on the delivery of 11 items of Belarusian products, including flax fibers and linen products, cheese and other dairy products, juices and other fruit drinks, to the market of the United States. The issue was supported by the U.S. authorities; now it needs to be discussed with U.S. businessmen, the minister said.

In his words, the Belarusian delegation met with the authorities of North Dakota to discuss the prospects of cooperation in beef and dairy husbandry. “We are eager to cooperate in reproduction and animal breeding. We would like to import semen materials,” Leonid Zayats said.

During the visit the sides discussed the organization of training and professional advancement courses for Belarusian animal husbandry specialists, including university professors, at the North Dakota State University. “We have come to agreement on this issue. Now we will be doing our best to fulfill these plans,” the minister said.

Another topic on the agenda was the organization of high-quality beef production in Belarus. This product will be sold on the markets of third countries. According to the minister, the agreement on cooperation in this field has been reached with owner of Rastelli Foods Group, Inc. Anthony Rastrelli. “He has already visited the Grodno meat factory. He had very good impressions of the enterprise,” the Belarusian minister said about the partner whose firm delivers products to the United Arab Emirates and other Middle Eastern countries.

Speaking about cooperation with the United States in fodder production, Leonid Zayats said: “No. We have our own tools for the development of a fodder base using only safe materials. We are not going to use genetically modified varieties in fodder production.” “The only thing that we will consider is the soy production technology. We already have soybean seeds in the Republic of Belarus,” the minister added. He emphasized once again that Belarus will not import American genetically modified products.

Belarusian farm produce, particularly, casein and a number of dairy products, are already exported to the United States. However, Minsk believes that this field is underdeveloped. The minister said: “We expect to raise our deliveries within two months.” Speaking about the quantity targets, the minister said: “Of course, we have targets. We would like to export $100 million worth of products this year.”

Speaking about the export of potatoes to the United States, Leonid Zayats said that there are no such plans yet. “But we will discuss these issues too,” the minister said.

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