A spokesman for Pennsylvania's Department of Agriculture called "completely unnecessary" yesterday's decision by Russia to ban the import of pork products from the state.
Russia also is swearing off all pork from Connecticut in its ever-expanding ban - now up to 13 states - stemming from concerns over the spreading H1N1 virus.
Though the virus was referred to as "swine flu," no links between it and pork products have been established, said Chris Ryder, spokesman for Pennsylvania's agriculture department.
"Humans cannot get the illness from pork products," Ryder said. "That ban on trade is unnecessary, in our eyes."
And it is costly. Of the $4.9 billion in pork products the United States exported last year, $476 million worth went to Russia, said Nick Giordano, vice president of the National Pork Producers Council in Washington.
In Pennsylvania, with 1.16 million hogs and pigs on 3,637 farms, pork exports accounted for 1,606 jobs and $67.5 million in personal income by the end of 2007, the most recent data available from the council.
Also hitting hard is an almost complete ban on all U.S. pork products by China. Last year, pork exports to China-Hong Kong totaled $690 million, Giordano said.