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SAO PAULO, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Minerva SA, Brazil's fourth-largest listed meat company by sales, expects the country will resume fresh beef exports to the United States in the first quarter of 2018, Chief Executive Fernando Galletti said on Tuesday.
The United States halted imports of fresh Brazilian beef in June after a high percentage of shipments failed to pass safety checks, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The agency said the suspension would remain in place until Brazil's Agriculture Ministry took corrective action.
Speaking on the sidelines of a conference hosted by Minerva, Galletti told reporters that his prediction is based on talks with the government.
"This is the expectation we are hearing from the Agriculture Ministry," he said, adding the company interacts with the government through a meatpackers industry group.
The ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Since the start of the year, domestic meat producers have faced a series of challenges ranging from a food safety scandal, which shut export markets temporarily for Brazil, to a corruption scandal that ensnared JBS SA, the world's largest meat company.
Last week, the industry received another blow when Russia imposed a temporary ban on Brazilian beef and pork.
The ban forced Minerva, which accounts for 7-8 percent of global beef trade, to supply Russia from its plants outside Brazil, Galletti said, adding the situation with Russia remained unchanged. (Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Susan Thomas)