WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine joined a bipartisan group of nine senators to write a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the United States Trade Representative urging them to provide for open markets and fair trade of U.S. chicken products, which would benefit poultry growers in Virginia and nationwide. The letter, which was sent to Secretary Tom Vilsack and Ambassador Michael Froman, states that lifting trade restrictions by several countries participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan would allow the U.S. to expand chicken exports and bring increased economic benefits to chicken producers and companies across the country.
“The U.S. chicken industry is a major economic driver in communities across the country. The industry supports over 1 million jobs and generates over $200 billion in annual economic impact,” the Senators wrote. “There is incredible potential to grow the level of exports from the U.S, and addressing these barriers to U.S. chicken products during the TPP negotiations is critical to making that potential a reality.”
According to the Virginia Poultry Federation, Virginia’s poultry industry employs more than 13,000 people across the Commonwealth and generates an additional 28,530 jobs in supplier and ancillary industries. As of 2012, Virginia ranks 10th nationally in broiler chicken production.
Full text of the letter is below:
January 14, 2013
Ambassador Michael Froman
United State Trade Representative
Office of the United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20508
The Honorable Thomas Vilsack
Secretary of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Ambassador Froman and Secretary Vilsack:
We write to express our concern regarding trade restrictions on U.S. chicken products by several countries participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and to urge you to consider them and do everything you can to provide for open markets and fair trade of U.S. chicken products. The TPP represents a significant opportunity to expand U.S. chicken exports and bring increased economic benefits to chicken growers and companies across the country. We are encouraged by the progress you have made during the latest round of trade talks. Your ongoing commitment to seek the highest possible standard agreement is appreciated.
As you know, the U.S. chicken industry is a major economic driver in communities across the country. The industry supports over 1 million jobs and generates over $200 billion in annual economic impact. Nearly 20% of broiler chickens and products produced in the U.S. are exported, representing a significant portion of total sales, and a critical part of the success of the industry. There is incredible potential to grow the level of exports from the U.S, and addressing these barriers to U.S. chicken products during the TPP negotiations is critical to making that potential a reality.
We are particularly concerned about Canada’s supply management program that severely limits U.S. chicken exports to our northern neighbor. As you know, despite ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canada has continued to impose restrictions on imports of U.S. chicken products and the U.S. has been unsuccessful in lifting those restrictions. We urge you to continue to work to address this long-standing, unjustified issue during the TPP negotiations and create true free trade for U.S. poultry.
Similarly, we are concerned about Australia and New Zealand’s use of non-scientific barriers related to poultry disease that prohibit trade of U.S. chicken products to these countries. If Australia and New Zealand are to participate in the TPP, they should conform to World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) standards.
Finally, Japan’s administrative guidance sets an unofficial quota on U.S. chicken products. Japan is a significant potential market for U.S. chicken products and a truly open trade agreement would create substantial opportunity for growth.
Thank you again for your ongoing commitment to moving the TPP negotiations forward. We urge you to continue to fully engage the other eleven participating countries on these priority issues for U.S. chicken producers. We look forward to working with you on these issues going forward.
Chris Coons (D-DE)
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Tom Carper (D-DE)
Roger Wicker (R-MS)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Mark Warner (D-VA)
Rob Portman (R-OH)
Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Tim Kaine (D-VA)