U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (NC) today joined a bipartisan group of 19 Senators in urging U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to fight for the nation's poultry producers on his upcoming visit to India in mid-January. In a letter sent yesterday, the Senators request that Kirk continue to work with top Indian officials on resolving India's non-scientifically based trade policies that deny the American poultry industry access to India's market.
Poultry is North Carolina's top agricultural commodity. North Carolina ranks second in the country in total turkey production, and third in the country in total poultry production.
"North Carolina's hardworking poultry producers are missing out on valuable export opportunities because of India's current trade barriers," said Hagan. "I urge Ambassador Kirk to stand strong on this issue on his upcoming trip to India and to fight for our farmers and our families, not just in North Carolina, but across the country."
Over the past five years, Indian trade policies on the viral disease avian influenza (AI) have prevented the import of poultry from a number of countries, including the United States. This policy, which makes no distinction between low-pathogenic AI and highly-pathogenic AI, is not backed by scientific evidence, and is not in line with standards from the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE). The National Chicken Council estimates that U.S. poultry farmers lose out on at least $300 million a year in exports because of this restriction.
"The U.S. has set the gold standard on this issue and has a track record on AI that is unsurpassed around the world," the Senators wrote to Kirk. "Despite the United States' track record on AI and the very effective measures in place for AI, India continues to use this non-scientifically based position to prohibit U.S. poultry to access the Indian market. With two of the United States' top poultry markets having been severely disrupted in the past three years, it is especially important that efforts be undertaken to replace them.
"We respectfully request that during your upcoming discussions with the government of India, you strongly explain the important biosecurity measures that have been implemented in the U.S. and that the continued use of non-scientifically based measures to prevent trade is unacceptable."
In addition to Senator Hagan, the bipartisan letter was signed by Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Daniel Coats (R-Ind.), Joe Manchin, III (D-W.Va.), Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jim Webb (D-Va.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), John D. Rockefeller, IV (D-W.Va.), James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Mark. R. Warner (D-Va.)