The Virginia Port Authority said China has agreed to allow log hardwood and softwood exports from the state to resume for a six month pilot program.
The Virginia Forestry Association said in 2011 Chinese officials found nematodes in pine log shipments that they identified as coming from Virginia and South Carolina, and banned further shipments from both states. The association said inspectors from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) investigated, and found many of the pest interceptions came from the West Coast and states other than Virginia and South Carolina. But it said the ban on Virginia logging cost Virginia businesses millions of dollars.
While technical details are still being finalized, Virginia logs will be allowed to re-enter China beginning June 1 via certain designated ports and with enhanced pest treatment and testing protocols under the terms of the pilot program.
In April, a delegation from China's Inspection and Quarantine Bureau arrived in Virginia to examine the quality, safety and security of log exports from Virginia. Working with the USDA, the port and members of private industry, Virginia said it was able to demonstrate the effectiveness of treatment, tracking and inspection protocols in place to guard against unwanted pests being transported in log shipments.
“It was a pretty quick turnaround from the time the Chinese delegation was here to the time we got the answer,” said VPA Executive Director Jerry A. Bridges. “We have all the necessary processes in place for safe export of this cargo. If it goes well for six months, as we suspect it will, we will start to recapture this business.”
In 2011 the value of Virginia's log exports was estimated at nearly $57 million, down $10 million from 2010. - Chris Dupin