Press Releases

Carper, Kaufman Call on President Obama to Address Russian Trade Barriers with President Medvedev

Restrictions could negatively impact nearly 500,000 U.S. jobs

Jun 21 2010

WASHINGTON - Today, Sens. Tom Carper and Ted Kaufman (both D-Del.) 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 upcoming meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The bipartisan group of senators emphasized that internationally recognized science methodology has proven U.S. poultry to be safe and that current restrictions are unwarranted.  

 

"As the largest market for chicken exports, Russia's ban on poultry is of serious concern to Delaware farmers," said Sen. Carper. "For every person in Delaware, there are 300 chickens. They've certainly got us outnumbered. A prolonged ban on U.S. poultry by Russia would result in a significant loss in revenue for Delaware's poultry industry and farmers who depend on it for their livelihood.  The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the United States Department of Agriculture have been actively engaged in discussions with Russian officials to address their concerns with U.S. poultry.  Unfortunately their efforts have yet to reverse the ban. I hope the President accepts our request and directly addresses Russia's trade restrictions on U.S. poultry with President Medvedev later this month."

 

"U.S. poultry plants are willing to make changes to address the needs of Russian consumers. I hope the President can put the issue back on the table to work out a compromise. The poultry industry is a strong source of jobs and revenue in Delaware, and we will continue to do all we can to lift this seemingly arbitrary ban," said Sen. Kaufman.

 

Over the last three years, U.S. poultry exports to Russia averaged more than $800 million in value, making Russia the single largest U.S. export market.  The poultry industry represents over 500,000 jobs in the United States. 

 

Full text of the letter is below. 

 

 

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.  

 

 

Sincerely,

 

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