Governor Terry McAuliffe, who recently completed an eleven-day trade and marketing mission to India and several Middle Eastern countries, announced today that Kuwait has lifted its ban on poultry imports from Virginia. The announcement followed several rounds of discussions regarding the ban amongst the Governor’s office, the Embassy of Kuwait to United States in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, other federal representatives, and senior Kuwait government officials. Kuwait’s ban on all U.S. poultry shipments was put in place earlier this year in response to high pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks in several Western and Midwestern states.
“Today’s announcement marks another victory for Virginia agriculture in the global marketplace,” said Governor McAuliffe. “As we work to grow Virginia’s agricultural and forestry exports and build a new Virginia economy, I am committed to advocating directly with senior government officials here and abroad to open or re-open markets for our products. I want to thank the Kuwait Embassy to the U.S., the U.S. Embassy to Kuwait, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agriculture Services’ staff, and many others for their efforts to have the ban lifted. I’m hopeful that Kuwait’s action will allow Virginia’s poultry exporters to quickly take advantage of the opportunity for more sales into a growing export region.”
In April, Kuwait banned imports of all U.S. poultry products in response to an outbreak of high pathogenic avian influenza in several Western and Midwestern states. Shortly thereafter, Governor McAuliffe, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore, and Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services staff began discussions with various principals, including USDA Foreign Agriculture Services, Kuwait’s Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Sheikh Salem Al-Sabah, as well as the Chairman-Director General and the Head of Animal Health of the Kuwait Public Authority of Agriculture Affairs & Fish Resources, among others.
Speaking about the Kuwait ban being lifted, Secretary Haymore remarked, “Virginia has not had an incidence of high pathogenic avian influenza in at least two decades. That’s a testament to our poultry producers and companies working closely with our federal and state partners to ensure that we have the safest and highest quality poultry in the world. So, I applaud Kuwait’s decision and I appreciate their response to our advocacy of Virginia’s poultry industry during the Governor’s recent mission. Having open and fair access to growing export markets, such as Kuwait and other Middle East countries, will help our diversified agricultural economy continue producing jobs and revenue right here at home.”
Following meetings with senior Kuwait government officials during the trade and marketing mission last month, Governor McAuliffe and Secretary Haymore conducted meetings with several Kuwaiti importers regarding Virginia’s poultry industry and potential future purchases. Information gathered from these meetings is being shared with Virginia poultry companies producing and exporting halal-certified products and whole birds.
Kuwait is Virginia’s 42nd largest export destination for agriculture and forestry products this year, with just over $6.5 million shipped as of October 31. Most of these exports consist of soybean meal, while some poultry products were shipped prior to the ban. The poultry industry is the largest segment of Virginia’s agricultural industry, producing more than $1 billion in farm cash receipts, contributing $13 billion to the state’s economy, and supporting 52,000 jobs, according to the Virginia Poultry Federation.