Press Releases

Delaware Delegation Urges Trade Representative to Help Lift Poultry Ban

Countries Have Unfairly Let Ban Continue, Despite Clean Bill of Health

Aug 17 2004

WASHINGTON (August 16, 2004) – U.S. Senators Joe Biden and Tom Carper and Rep. Michael Castle today urged U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick to help lift the ban on U.S. poultry imports that was put in place earlier this year following the outbreak of avian influenza in Delaware and other states. The letter asks Zoellick to contact his counterparts in China, Hong Kong and Japan to ask that Delaware chicken products be allowed entry into those markets immediately. The letter notes that it has been six months since A.I. was found on Delaware farms, with no additional episodes reported since then. Most foreign markets moved to restrict U.S. poultry goods immediately after the outbreak, but some countries – among them the biggest importers of Delaware chicken products – have inappropriately kept those restrictions in place. “While we did not object to … temporary restrictions at the time [of the outbreak], and most have been lifted, we are concerned that some important trading partners have chosen to extend those temporary restrictions much longer than we believe is appropriate,” the letter reads. “We therefore ask that you contact your counterparts in China, Hong Kong and Japan to ask that Delaware chicken products be allowed entry into those markets immediately.” The letter notes that the response by the state and federal governments, as well as the poultry industry, in wake of the outbreak helped identify, contain and eradicate the virus. At the request of the Delaware congressional delegation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture provided $13.7 million in emergency money this year to help battle avian influenza. The delegation said the extra money, as well as actions taken by the poultry industry, should “boost the confidence” of our trading partners that Delaware chickens are safe. Poultry is Delaware's most valuable agricultural commodity, worth approximately $500 million annually and employing thousands. “As long as countries such as China, Hong Kong and Japan restrict entry of Delaware poultry, our local industry is at a competitive disadvantage with other states,” the letter states. The full text of the letter is attached. August 17, 2004 The Honorable Robert B. Zoellick United States Trade Representative 600 17th Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20508 Dear Ambassador Zoellick: We write today to urge that you continue efforts to reestablish unrestricted trade of U.S. poultry products with China, Hong Kong, and Japan. Six months have passed since the discovery of avian influenza in Delaware, and no additional episodes have occurred. Hours after the initial discovery of infected birds, most foreign markets restricted poultry imports from Delmarva, the entire U.S., or other specific regions of the country while more was learned about the extent and character of this avian influenza strain. While we did not object to these temporary trade restrictions at the time, and most have been lifted, we are concerned that some important trading partners have chosen to extend those temporary restrictions much longer than we believe is appropriate. We therefore ask that you contact your counterparts in China, Hong Kong, and Japan to ask that Delaware chicken products be allowed entry into those markets immediately. The USDA response to the outbreaks occurring this year was prompt and the assistance provided to the state Department of Agriculture and the poultry industry was instrumental in helping to identify, contain and eradicate the avian influenza. Following the recent infections, the Administration recognized the expanding need to implement a comprehensive strategy to battle avian influenza by transferring under emergency authority $13.7 million to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for the Low Pathogen Avian Influenza (LPAI) program, a significant increase over the $994,000 originally provided in FY=04. The results achieved in part by this increased funding should boost the confidence of our trading partners that they can open their ports to Delaware poultry without concern. Exports are essential for our poultry industry. In Delaware, where the broiler chickens represent a significant segment of our economy, foreign markets must remain available when important health and safety issues have been addressed. As long as countries such as China, Hong Kong, and Japan restrict entry of Delaware poultry, our local industry is at a competitive disadvantage with other states. The rapid and decisive way in which Delmarva's poultry industry responded to low pathogenic avian influenza should provide comfort to all of our foreign trading partners that their citizens are not and never were at risk from buying Delaware chicken products. All birds on the farms in question were destroyed and composted on the farms. Those birds could not have reached either domestic or international commerce. Again, we believe it is critical to our state's poultry industry that the U.S. Trade Representative work to reestablish normal exports in these three important international markets - China, Hong Kong, and Japan. Your prompt attention to this matter is greatly appreciated. Sincerely, ____________________________ _____________________________ Senator Thomas R. Carper Senator Joseph R. Biden _____________________________________ Congressman Michael Castle cc: Dr. Condoleezza Rice, National Security Council Dr. J B Penn, Undersecretary, Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, USDA