By David B. Strickland
Poultry Times staff
WASHINGTON — Poultry industry organizations are heralding recent efforts by U.S. senators to reopen the export trade market with China for U.S. chicken and turkey products.
This once very significant poultry export market was closed in 2015 following detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the U.S. Before the ban, exports of U.S. chicken to China reached as much as $722 million, and turkey peaked at $71 million.
A bipartisan group of 37 senators from across the nation recently sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue that calls for a speedy reopening of this market for U.S. chicken and turkey products. The senate group is being led by U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).
The National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation and the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council have all noted their support on moving this action forward.
“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 U.S. poultry,” NTF and NCC said in a joint 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.”
The groups also added that this current ban runs counter to World Health Organization for Animal Health (OIE) standards.
“We understand and are encouraged that China has begun its animal health audit of the U.S. poultry industry,” the senators noted in their letter. “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.”
There is also a noted need for poultry imports in China. In its latest “Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade,” the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service says that, “China’s supplies (of broiler meat) remain hindered by struggles with multiple strains of HPAI. In addition, obtaining adequate domestic supplies of white-feathered poultry genetics due to HPAI-related restrictions on trading partners, particularly the United States and EU (European Union), limits industry recovery.
“As Chinese production continues to fall further in 2017, unmet demand will be partially filled with higher imports as was the case last year. As a result, Chinese imports are forecast up nearly 40 percent to 600,000 tons.”
Poultry industry associations are working diligently to add the U.S. back into trade with China. NTF and NCC added that the U.S. 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.”