Poultry groups applaud Russia on trade ban move

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON – Government and industry associations applauded a June 24 announcement that the United States and Russia have reached an agreement that will allow U.S. poultry exports to Russia to resume. 

Under the agreement, the U.S. will publish information on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (U.S.D.A.) website about which disinfectants/pathogen reductions treatments are known to be approved by Russia for use on processing poultry and on food generally. The U.S. will also provide information to Russia on the solutions that companies use on poultry shipped to Russia. The U.S. will also give Russia an updated list of poultry-processing facilities authorized to ship poultry to Russia.

"I am pleased that after several months of negotiations, we have finally reached a breakthrough which will allow for U.S. poultry exports to resume to this important market," said U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. "In 2009, U.S. poultry exports to Russia were valued at $767 million. [The June 24th] agreement will not only benefit our farmers and ranchers, but it will help support agriculture jobs here at home."

"This is an important achievement for U.S. agriculture," added Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Russia has long been the largest export market for U.S. poultry and regaining access to that market has been a top priority for the Obama Administration. I am pleased our countries have come to an agreement that will reopen this valuable market to U.S. producers."

The reopening of the Russian market is good news for U.S. chicken producers and processors, according to George Watts, president of the National Chicken Council. “We thank President Obama and government officials and members of Congress who were involved in resolving this issue.”

Many members of Congress had urged the President to address the issue in his meetings with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Dozens of members of the U.S. House and Senate, including Senators Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, chairman and ranking minority member respectively of the Senate Agriculture Committee, wrote to President Obama to urge speedy resolution of the issue.

National Turkey Federation members also applauded the move and specifically praised the efforts of Ms. Lincoln, D-Ark., chairwoman of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and Ranking Member Chambliss, R-Ga.

The poultry industry has long emphasized that internationally recognized scientific methodology has proven U.S. poultry processing practices are safe and that the trade restrictions are unwarranted, according to the N.T.F.

Ms. Lincoln and Mr. Chambliss were joined by 22 other senators, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., in sending the letter to President Obama in advance of the meeting.

Over the last three years, U.S. poultry exports to Russia averaged more than $800 million in value, making Russia the single largest U.S. export market. The poultry industry represents more than 500,000 jobs in the U.S., according to the N.T.F.
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