Several Senators Applaud Lift of Poultry Ban


U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln, (D-Ark.), Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss, (R-Ga.), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), today applauded the announcement that Russia will lift its ban on U.S. poultry imports. On Monday, Lincoln, Chambliss, Klobuchar, and 22 other Senators sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to discuss Russian trade barriers on U.S. poultry imports during his meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. In a joint press conference today following the meeting, Obama and Medvedev announced that an agreement had been reached and the ban will be lifted.

“I want to thank President Obama for addressing the concerns I raised to him in my letter and I am very pleased that the issues that have kept U.S. poultry exports out of the Russian market since the first of the year were resolved. The Russian market is worth $100 million annually to Arkansas producers and this decision will help preserve the 89,000 poultry jobs that are critical to Arkansas’s economy,” Lincoln said. “I thank President Obama, U.S. Trade Representative Kirk and Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack for their tireless efforts on this issue and hope that the details of this agreement can be quickly implemented so that U.S. poultry shipments to Russia can resume as soon as possible.”

U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee said, “Russia’s commitment to resume trade is a welcome development and good news for poultry farmers in Georgia. It is my hope future disruptions can be avoided thereby removing unnecessary irritants to U.S.-Russia relations. In the future, Congress will be closely monitoring this agreement to ensure both sides adhere to science based standards. I commend the efforts of President Obama, U.S. Trade Ambassador Kirk and Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack for their tireless efforts on behalf of the poultry industry and their commitment to U.S. agriculture.”

“I am pleased that Russia has agreed to lift its ban on U.S. poultry. The prolonged absence from the Russian market was harming U.S. turkey and chicken farmers in an already tough economy,” Klobuchar said.  “U.S. poultry has been internationally recognized as safe, and resolving this issue was critical to our poultry producers and our nation’s economy.”


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. The lengthy absence of this critical market in Russia has generated an overall 14 percent decline in the volume of U.S. poultry exports globally. 


Full text of the letter sent to the President on Monday 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. 



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


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