Senators from across the US political spectrum have written to US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue calling for a swift reopening of poultry markets with China.
The Chinese authorities banned imports of chicken and turkey from the US following the detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza in wild duck in 2015 and the ban has been in place ever since.
In the bipartisan letter, the senators said US poultry producers continued to be negatively affected by the loss of the burgeoning export market.
“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. Expanding market access in growing regions in the Asia Pacific, especially China, is essential for our poultry producers and will result in the creation of new jobs and higher wages in rural communities.”
Senators said in the letter that they were encouraged that China had begun its animal health audit of the US poultry industry: “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 letter was welcomed by the National Turkey Federation and National Chicken Council, which said they were pleased to see a third of the Senate call for swift progress to end China’s ban on US poultry.
“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,” they said in a statement.