The following statement was released today by the National Chicken Council, Washington, D.C., National Turkey Federation, Washington, D.C., and the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, Stone Mountain, Georgia, on the embargo announced by the Russian Federation:
A Russian embargo on U.S. poultry products, if it goes into effect and is not corrected soon, could have a significant adverse impact on the U.S. poultry industry and on American agriculture in general. We hope that wiser heads will prevail and the embargo will be lifted.
The embargo is all about protection of the Russian domestic poultry industry. The Russian producers do not like to compete with imports and have been demanding protection from their government. The embargo is the Russian government’s response. The Russian government asked questions about production practices in the United States, but, according to Russian media, prepared and signed the embargo order even before receiving the answers. The embargo is protectionism, pure and simple.
In 2001, Russian importers bought just over 1 million metric tons of U.S. chicken, which was 38 percent of total U.S. chicken exports and about 8 percent of total U.S. production. Russia is our top export market and will not be easily replaced. Loss of the market will impact not only chicken companies but also their employees (approximately 300,000 of them) and the 30,000 independent family farmers who grow chickens for the companies. It will also hit other U.S. farmers, since poultry producers purchase about 30 percent of the feed corn and 50 per cent of the soybean meal produced in the United States as ingredients of poultry feed. The embargo is a slap in the face to all of American agriculture, which has grown increasingly export-oriented in recent years.
The biggest losers, of course, are Russian consumers, who stand to lose an affordable, high-quality food that is obviously very popular in Russia (as it is in many other countries that import U.S. chicken).
We have worked with the Russian industry to help improve its production and processing systems. We believe it is a large market with plenty of room for both domestic and imported product.
We urge our government to take whatever steps are necessary to bring this unfortunate and totally unjustified embargo to an end.