Thirty senators sent a letter Monday calling on Russia to honor a June agreement to allow U.S. poultry exports into the country.
The lawmakers — 19 Democrats and 11 Republicans who hail from poultry-producing states across the country — said the stalemate over U.S. poultry sales to Russia has gone on long enough.
“It is critical that President Obama press the Russian president to live up to his end of the bargain and quit punishing American poultry producers,” Sen. Christopher S. Bond, R-Mo., said in a statement issued with the letter. Missouri is among the top five turkey-producing states.
Democrat Thomas R. Carper, whose state of Delaware is part of the poultry belt, said, “Prolonged restrictions on U.S. poultry by Russia, which effectively continue to ban the majority of American poultry products from entering the Russian market, would result in a significant loss in revenue for Delaware’s poultry industry and farmers who depend on it.”
In a five-paragraph letter to Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergey I. Kislyak, the senators called Russia a “valuable trading partner” to U.S. poultry producers.
“These actions are a setback to our countries’ trade relations,” they added.
The senators said U.S. poultry sales to Russia averaged more than $800 million over the past three years and supported 500,000 U.S. jobs.
Poultry shipments to Russia were scheduled to resume in late July, ending a Russian ban on foreign poultry treated with a chlorine rinse to kill pathogens. The rinse is widely used in the U.S. poultry industry.
However, the United States said last-minute demands by Russia for inspections derailed the agreement.
President Obama has treated the trade issue as a priority, announcing after a June meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that the ban would be lifted. Under the agreement later negotiated, Russia identified three chemical alternatives to chlorine that would be acceptable.