WASHINGTON – In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, a bipartisan group of 37 senators is calling for the reopening of the Chinese market for poultry exports. Exports of US chicken and turkey to China were banned in 2015. The group is being led by Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).

The US is the largest poultry producer in the world and with nearly 18 percent of its poultry products shipped to foreign markets is the second biggest poultry meat exporter worldwide. The value of poultry exports from the US to China was $71 million for turkey and $722 million for chicken, at its peak. Despite the change in World Health Organization for Animal Health (OIE) standards after the detection of a single wild bird with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in 2015, China continues to ban US poultry.

“We understand and are encouraged that China has begun its animal health audit of the US poultry industry,” the letter from the senators stated. “Once this audit is completed, we encourage USDA to remain diligent in seeking final Chinese approval for US 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.”

The National Turkey Federation, National Chicken Council and USA Poultry & Egg Export Council fully support the senators’ efforts to help get the Chinese market reopened.

“Poultry producers are pleased to see a third of the Senate, led by Senators Cochran and Warner, call for swift progress to end China’s ban on US poultry,” the National Turkey Federation and National Chicken Council said in a statement. “It is critical that we continue to develop an open trading relationship with the Chinese. The Senate’s strong statement on behalf of American poultry products makes clear balance and fairness must exist for a two-way open market with China.”