OMAHA (DTN) -- Poultry exports from the United States to China will resume after the Chinese government lifted a four-year ban on Thursday, as the nation struggles to meet protein demands in light of the African swine fever outbreak.
The lifting of the ban is effective immediately. China imposed the ban in 2015, responding to avian influenza outbreaks in the U.S.; the U.S. has been free of avian influenza since 2017.
The news was welcome relief for U.S. poultry producers. The National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation and the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council released a joint statement following the announcement.
"Lifting the ban has been a top priority of the U.S. poultry industry for the past four years," the groups said. "We thank President Trump, Agriculture Secretary (Sonny) Perdue, U.S. Trade Representative (Robert) Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary (Steve) Mnuchin, congressional leaders and their staffs, all of whom have worked tirelessly to reach an agreement with China and ensure the poultry industry has access to this market."
At its peak, annual poultry exports from the U.S. to China was a $71 million market for turkey and a $722 million market for chicken. The groups said renewed access to the Chinese market could result in $1 billion annually for "chicken paws alone."
In addition, they said there could be another $1 billion of potential exports of other chicken products, including leg and breast meat. Turkey exports could generate another $100 million in sales and poultry breeding stock at least $60 million more.
"America's poultry producers are committed to raising high-quality, nutritious products, and we are extremely pleased that we will once again have the opportunity to share these products with Chinese consumers," the groups said.
Lighthizer and Perdue issued statements regarding China's decision.
"The United States welcomes China's decision to finally lift its unwarranted ban on U.S. poultry and poultry products," Lighthizer said. "This is great news for both America's farmers and China's consumers. China is an important export market for America's poultry farmers and we estimate they will now be able to export more than $1 billion worth of poultry and poultry products each year to China. Reopening China to U.S. poultry will create new export opportunities for our poultry farmers and support thousands of workers employed by the U.S. poultry industry."
Perdue said, "After being shut out of the market for years, U.S. poultry producers and exporters welcome the reopening of China's market to their products. America's producers are the most productive in the world and it is critical they be able to sell their bounty to consumers in other parts of the globe. We will continue our work to expand market access in important markets like China as well as other countries, to support our producers and U.S. jobs."
The U.S. exported more than $500 million worth of poultry products to China in 2013, prior to the 2014 avian influenza outbreak.
The U.S. is the world's second-largest poultry exporter, with global exports of poultry meat and products of $4.3 billion last year.
Todd Neeley can be reached at email@example.com
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