WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) today led a bipartisan group of 37 senators in urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to push the Chinese government to end its ban on the sale of American poultry products. The ban was instituted by China in 2015 due to the detection of a wild duck with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and continues to be enforced today, in contradiction of World Health Organization for Animal Health (OIE) standards.
“Poultry is produced in almost every state. For communities and states that rely on a thriving and growing poultry industry, these agreements are essential to a strong and vibrant future,” said the Senators in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
The United States 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. According to the Virginia Poultry Federation, Virginia’s poultry industry employs as many as 17,637 people across the Commonwealth and generates an additional 32,983 jobs in supplier and ancillary industries. As of 2016, Virginia ranks 10th nationally in broiler chicken production and 6th in turkey production.
Joining Sens. Warner and Cochran on the letter are Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR), Richard Burr (R-NC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), John Hoeven (R-ND), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mike Lee (R-UT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jerry Moran (R-KS), David Perdue (R-GA), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Tim Scott (R-SC), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Luther Strange (R-AL), John Thune (R-SD), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Todd Young (R-IN).
“The poultry industry provides thousands of high quality jobs in our rural communities and the reopening of the Chinese market would provide a huge boost for these rural areas. We encourage you to remain focused on the next steps to officially reopen the Chinese market as soon as possible,” added the Senators.
A copy of the letter follows: