WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Thad Cochran, R-Miss., are among a bipartisan group of 37 Senators urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to push the Chinese government to end its ban on American poultry products.
In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the Senators challenge the ban, instituted by China in 2015 after the detection of a wild duck with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influence (HPAI). The ban, which contradicts World Health Organization for Animal Health standards, prevents Mississippi egg and poultry products from being exported to Chinese markets.
“The poultry industry provides thousands of high quality jobs in our rural communities and the reopening of the Chinese market would provide a huge boost for these rural areas. We encourage you to remain focused on the next steps to officially reopen the Chinese market as soon as possible,” the letter said.
“Poultry is produced in almost every state. For communities and states that rely on a thriving and growing poultry industry, these agreements are essential to a strong and vibrant future,” the Senators wrote.
Mississippi is the nation’s fifth-largest producer of broilers, with 736 million chickens worth $2.82 billion produced in 2016. The state also produced more than 1.36 billion eggs last year, valued at $104 million. The state’s producers rely on strong export markets to market broilers and eggs produced and processed, but not consumed, in Mississippi.
The United States is the largest poultry producer in the world and the second biggest poultry meat exporter, with nearly 18 percent of its product shipped to foreign markets.
Cochran and Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) authored the letter, which in addition to Wicker, was signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Diane Feinstein (D- Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D- Minn.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Luther Strange (R-Ala.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Todd Young (R- Ind.).
The text of the correspondence follows:
Dear Secretary Perdue:
We are encouraged by the Administration’s recent efforts to reopen the Chinese beef trade market, and are pleased you have made lifting the Chinese ban on U.S. poultry products one of your top priorities as Agriculture Secretary. In January 2015, China banned all poultry products from the United States due to the detection of a wild duck with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). More than two years later, China continues to enforce this ban, which is inconsistent with World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) standards. As a result, U.S. poultry producers have been negatively affected by the loss of this burgeoning export market.
The poultry industry provides thousands of high quality jobs in our rural communities and the reopening of the Chinese market would provide a huge boost for these rural areas. We encourage you to remain focused on the next steps to officially reopen the Chinese market as soon as possible. Expanding market access in growing regions in the Asia Pacific, especially China, is essential for our poultry producers and will result in the creation of new jobs and higher wages in rural communities. We are hopeful for a swift process and offer our strong support as you and your staff continue to work to reopen this critical export market for poultry produced in the United States.
We understand and are encouraged that China has begun its animal health audit of the U.S. poultry industry. Once this audit is completed, we encourage USDA to remain diligent in seeking final Chinese approval for U.S. poultry’s first successful shipment as quickly as possible. Poultry products are often part of the Chinese New Year celebrations, and our farmers would very much like to be able to offer their products during that time.
With the productivity of U.S. agriculture exceeding domestic demand, the U.S. food and agriculture industry and the rural communities which depend on it rely heavily on export markets to sustain prices and revenues. Poultry is produced in almost every state. For communities and states that rely on a thriving and growing poultry industry, these agreements are essential to a strong and vibrant future.
We look forward to hearing from you regarding the status of this important negotiation.
—CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via AP
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