A bipartisan group of nineteen Senators sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk urging the Administration to press China to live up to its commitments and allow the importation of American pork.
"Last year, China agreed to re-open its markets to American pork, but so far they have failed to abide by that agreement," Brown said. "Every day that China fails to honor its commitment, Ohio's pork producers are shortchanged."
Despite any known connection between pork and H1N1, China banned the direct or indirect imports of swine and swine products from states with confirmed cased of "human swine influenza" in 2009. This decision adversely affected the U.S. pork industry, which supports 515,000 indirect jobs and 35,000 full-time jobs. The U.S. Pork industry contributes $34.5 billion to the gross nation product.
The letter was signed by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), George Voinovich (R-OH), Kit Bond (R-MO), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Roland Burris (D-IL), Richard Burr (R-NC), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), John Thune (R-SD), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Carl Levin (D-MI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Al Franken (D-MN), Mike Johanns (D-NE), Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Kay Hagan (D-NC).
The full text of the letter can be found below.
Brown is the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in more than 40 years. He chairs the Agriculture Subcommittee on Hunger, Nutrition, and Family Farms, and was awarded with the "Friend of Farm Bureau" Award from the Ohio Farm Bureau.
February 25, 2010
The Honorable Tom Vilsack
Secretary of Agriculture
Jamie L. Whitten Federal Building
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington DC 20250
The Honorable Ron Kirk
United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20508
Dear Secretary Vilsack and Ambassador Kirk:
Five months ago, the People's Republic of China pledged to reopen its markets to American pork exports. We are writing today to inquire about the status of China's pledge and to support the Administration in ensuring this commitment to reopen China's market is honored.
Beginning on April 26, 2009, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) of China banned the direct or indirect imports of swine and swine products from states with confirmed cases of "human swine influenza." This ban included many major pork exporting states. At the conclusion of the US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), we were very pleased to hear from you and from U.S. Trade Representative Kirk that China would re-open its market to the United States and follow consistent, scientifically based standards for accepting imported meat.
The U.S. Pork industry supports 35,000 full-time equivalent jobs, 515,000 indirect jobs and generates $34.5 billion of gross national product to the U.S. economy. During these challenging economic times, these jobs are vital. However, following last year's H1N1 outbreak, the vitality of the pork industry was hurt by unfounded export disruptions in places like China. Dealing with complex and intertwined trade issues is a difficult task. However, we believe it is important that China honor the agreement to open its export market to U.S. pork and we urge you to do everything within your means to ensure this market is reopened as promised.
Thank you for your attention to this important issue and we look forward to working with you to restore and grow our agricultural export capacity.
Amy Klobuchar John Thune
Kit Bond Claire McCaskill
Debbie Stabenow Carl Levin
Dick Durbin George Voinovich
Roland Burris Tim Johnson
Richard Burr Al Franken
Sam Brownback Mike Johanns
Ben Nelson Tom Harkin
Sherrod Brown Kay Hagan