China lifts ban on Va. poultry imports
Chinese authorities have rescinded a 6.5-year import suspension of poultry from Virginia, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Gov. Terry McAuliffe's office.
China imposed the ban because of what it said were concerns of low pathogenic avian flu following an isolated case reported at a single farm in Virginia. State officials said the ban was not justified by scientific data. Medical experts do not consider low-pathogenic bird flu strains a threat to human health because they cannot be transmitted to humans.
China is the third-largest export market for U.S. poultry and poultry products. Exports to China totaled $504 million last year.
Virginia state officials welcomed the news, saying it will support farm, processing and transportation-related jobs and increase exports through the port. The ban covered all poultry produced in Virginia, transiting through the state or exported from any port in Virginia.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore have continued efforts begun under governors Kaine and McDonnell for reinstatement of import privileges for poultry. Also working to convince Chinese officials that Virginia poultry is safe were the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, members of Virginia's congressional delegation and the poultry industry.
Virginia officials recently hosted a technical delegation from China's General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and Ministry of Agriculture
"Based on China's current poultry purchases from other nearby states, we believe that Virginia stands to gain $20 million or more in export sales each year," Haymore said. "China is a good market for certain items that are not of high value in the domestic market, but can be an important income generator for poultry processors.
"Chicken feet and wing tips are considered a delicacy in some parts of China. Reopening the market to these Virginia products adds commercial value to the product. Chicken feet and wing tips may be worth a few cents per pound in the domestic market but can sell for many times this amount in China."
China ranked as the No. 1 market for Virginia's agricultural exports in 2013, with more than $580 million in purchases. The total value of Virginia poultry exports exceeded $186 million in 2013, with China absent as a major potential market for Virginia. Agricultural and forestry exports from Virginia reached a record high of $2.85 billion in 2013.
The poultry industry is the largest individual sector of Virginia's agriculture industry. With annual farm cash receipts in excess of $950 million, poultry accounts for more than 30 percent of all Virginia's cash receipts from agriculture.
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