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U.S. lifts ban on pork imports from Mexico

CHICAGO, Jan 12 (Reuters) - The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized a rule recognizing Mexico free of Classical Swine Fever (CSF), which will allow all states in Mexico to export pork to the United States, the agency said in a release on Friday.

At the request of Mexico’s government, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) completed a thorough review, which included updating its initial risk assessment in 2016 following a 2015 site visit.

As a result, APHIS determined that the risk of introducing CSF into the United States through imports of live swine, swine genetics, pork and pork products is very low, the agency said.

It added that those items can safely be imported following the conditions outlined in APHIS’s import regulations, while still protecting the United States against CSF.

CSF is a highly contagious viral disease in pigs that was eradicated from the United States in the late 1970s.

The U.S. pork industry strongly supports free trade and the use of epidemiological science and risk analyses to determine if trade can be safely conducted between countries, said National Pork Producers Council President Ken Maschhoff.

“Mexico in 2017 was our No. 2 export market, so maintaining our good relationship with that country by ensuring fair and reciprocal trade is paramount for our producers,” said Maschhoff.

Last year's pork exports to Mexico through November totaled 726,717 metric tons. That accounted for nearly a third of the total U.S. export volume and was valued at $1.37 billion, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. (Reporting by Theopolis Waters; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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