The poultry industry urged Congress Wednesday to keep the pressure on Russia to abandon its “unacceptable” restrictions on poultry exports from the United States.
“Actions by Russia last year caused a substantial disruption to U.S. poultry exports,” said Hobey Bauhan, president of the Virginia Poultry Federation (VPF), in testimony to the House Committee on Agriculture, adding that U.S. exports to Russia are still well below normal levels.
In addition he said, an import quota system recently instituted by Russia will cut U.S. poultry exports by 50 percent from the level reached in 2001.
“Such a drastic decrease in the quantity of poultry imported by Russia is unacceptable,” Bauhan said. “Strong support in Congress is needed to reach a long-term resolution to the current situation.” Bauhan was speaking for the National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation, and the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council as well as the VPF.
Bauhan said Congress should take several steps to put pressure on Russia to lift its restrictions. He said Congress should:
— Withhold approval for graduating Russia from the annual human-rights review under the Jackson-Vanik Amendment until U.S. poultry trade with Russia returns to more normal levels.
— Withhold support for Russia’s application to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) until Russia “fully demonstrates” that it will abide by WTO rules.
— Support a trade action by the U.S. Trade Representative unless the import quota issue with Russia is satisfactorily resolved.
Bauhan also said the U.S. poultry industry supports the free trade agreement (FTA) recently signed between the United States and Chile. He said the industry supports the agreement despite a two-year delay in access to the Chilean market for U.S. poultry exporters.
“While more immediate access to the Chilean market would be much preferred, we support the agreement,” he said. “We look forward to the time when poultry trade with Chile can be conducted in a more normal and free environment.”