Warner urges Trump administration to help lift Chinese ban on U.S. poultry

congressU.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) joined eight other senators, Republicans and Democrats, in writing to United States Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, encouraging him to utilize U.S.-China trade negotiations to ensure that China lifts its ban on U.S. poultry products.

The poultry industry currently employs more than 17,000 Virginians and generates an additional 32,000 jobs in supplier and ancillary industries.

“We believe that a trade agreement with China must provide for strong and lasting structural changes in order to end the unfair trade practices that have disproportionately hurt the U.S. economy and American workers,” the senators wrote. “Agriculture is of particular importance to our states’ economies, and we urge you to use this opportunity to support America’s farmers by securing duty-free access for U.S. agricultural products and lifting the Chinese ban on U.S. poultry products.”

At its peak in 2008, poultry exports to China had a value of $722 million. However, in 2015, China imposed a ban on U.S. poultry, following an outbreak of avian influenza. Virginia is one of the top poultry producing states in the country, with broiler chickens ranking as the Commonwealth’s top agricultural commodity.

Reopening the Chinese market to American poultry products would create growth opportunities for family farms in the Shenandoah Valley, Central Virginia, and the Eastern Shore.

Accomack, Shenandoah, Page, Rockingham, Augusta, Buckingham, Cumberland, Amelia and Nottoway counties are all major producers of poultry, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

In addition to Sen. Warner, the letter was signed by Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), John Boozman (R-AR), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Ben Cardin (D-MD).

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