WASHINGTON – US Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) recently led a bipartisan group of 18 senators in writing and sending a letter written to US Trade Representative Ron Kirk urging his office to settle longstanding questionable policies during Kirk’s future meeting with India’s senior government leaders.

Trade policies in India have not conformed to the scientifically based World Organization for Animal Health standards on avian influenza (AI) since 2006, stated the Jan. 6 edition of the National Chicken Council’s (NCC) Washington Report. Meanwhile, American poultry producers are abiding by these globally recognized food production standards.

“Despite the US’ track record on AI and the very effective measures in place for AI, India continues to use this non-scientifically-based position to prohibit US poultry to access the Indian market,” the letter stated. “With two of the US’ top poultry markets having been severely disrupted in the past three years, it is especially important that efforts be undertaken to replace them.”

NCC estimates US poultry exports to India could exceed $300 million annually if appropriate, fair market access was provided in accordance with India’s obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization, the letter added.

“We respectfully request that during your upcoming discussions with the government of India, you strongly explain the important biosecurity measures that have been implemented in the United States and that the continued use of non-scientifically-based measures to prevent trade is unacceptable,” the letter continued.

Senators signing the letter included Coons and Isakson, as well as Thomas Carper (D-DE), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), Daniel Coats (R-Ind.), Joe Manchin III (D-WV), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jim Webb (D-Va.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), John Rockefeller, IV (D-WV), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.).