Carper, Kaufman Cheer Russia’s Decision to Lift Trade Barriers Against U.S. Poultry, Thank Obama Administration for Efforts to Address Unfair Restrictions

Decision Follows Weeks of Effort by Delaware's Senators to Work with Obama Administration to Resolve Trade Dispute

WASHINGTON – Sens. Tom Carper and Ted Kaufman (both D-Del.) cheered today’s announcement by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that the United States and Russia had reached agreement to resume exporting U.S. poultry products to Russia. The announcement follows weeks of efforts by Delaware’s Senators and the Obama Administration to persuade Russia to lift trade barriers against U.S. poultry. Earlier this week, Sens. Carper and Kaufman joined 23 of their Senate colleagues in sending a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to address Russian trade barriers on U.S. poultry imports during his meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. On Wednesday Senator Carper spoke with Secretary Vilsack of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Trade Representative Kirk, and Secretary Locke of the U.S. Department of Commerce to follow up on the letter to President Obama about the need to address this issue.
“I want to thank President Obama and his Administration for their successful efforts to address Russia’s unfair restrictions against American poultry,” said Sen. Carper. “Russia is Delaware’s, and America’s, largest market for chicken exports. Today’s announcement to end Russian restrictions on U.S. poultry is a win for Delaware’s poultry industry and the farmers who depend on it for their livelihood. My colleagues and I have been working tirelessly with the Administration to resolve this issue and I’m pleased that we’ve been able to secure this victory for Delaware’s – and America’s – poultry industry and farmers.” 
“This is great news. I applaud President Obama for raising this important issue during talks with Russian President Medvedev,” said Senator Kaufman. “Today’s agreement will once again allow the United States to export our chickens to Russia — reopening a critical market for poultry producers in Delaware and across the country.”  
A copy of the letter to President Obama follows:
June 21, 2010
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Next week, you are scheduled to meet with Russian President Medvedev for talks on improved collaboration between our two nations, in advance of the G-8 summit in Canada. While in some areas the level of cooperation between our two countries has improved, irritants remain in that relationship that require attention at the highest level. For the past five months, the Russian Federation has blocked poultry imports from the United States over the use of chlorine rinses in the production process. We believe the stalemate in the negotiations requires the attention of the leaders of both countries. We urge you to include this issue on the agenda of your meeting with President Medvedev to ensure that importation rules are based on science and consistent with international standards.
Over the last three years, U.S. poultry exports to Russia averaged more than $800 million in value, making Russia our single largest export market. The poultry industry in this country represents over 500,000 jobs in the United States and has a significant impact on countless other communities across the country. 
Since 1990, Russia has imported U.S. poultry that was processed using chlorinated water to reduce pathogens and enhance food safety. Throughout this period, Russian authorities did not express any concern. Therefore, the current ban seems arbitrary and capricious. Science has shown the use of chlorine solutions to be a safe and cost effective way to maintain food safety during poultry processing. Additionally, we understand Russia is still buying poultry from other suppliers, such as Brazil, where some facilities use the same process as U.S. facilities, without guarantees that they are not using chlorine solutions. This disparity appears to be contrary to the Russian government’s assertions that its actions are being taken out of concern for the safety of its population. 
The cumulative effect of the actions taken by Russia’s government has been to keep U.S. products entirely out of the Russian market. We believe the United States and Russia should work together to promote trade between our two countries and lower barriers that undermine the bilateral relationship. Your meeting with the Russian President in advance of the upcoming G-8 summit offers a crucial opportunity to address this issue with the seriousness it deserves. We urge you to use all means at your disposal to address this situation and we thank you for working with us. 
Senator Blanche Lincoln, Chairman
Senator Saxby Chambliss, Ranking Member
Senator Kit Bond
Senator Barbara Boxer
Senator Richard Burr
Senator Ben Cardin
Senator Tom Carper
Senator Thad Cochran
Senator John Cornyn
Senator Al Franken
Senator Kay Hagan
Senator Orrin Hatch
Senator Johnny Isakson
Senator Mike Johanns
Senator Ted Kaufman
Senator Amy Klobuchar
Senator Mary Landrieu
Senator Richard Lugar
Senator Claire McCaskill
Senator Barbara Mikulski
Senator Mark Pryor
Senator Debbie Stabenow
Senator John Thune
Senator Mark Warner
Senator Jim Webb
cc:        The Honorable Ron Kirk, United States Trade Representative
The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture