Today, Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Christopher Bond (R-Mo.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Burr (R-NC), Roland Burris (D-Ill.), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), John Thune (R-SD), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) sent a letter to the Russian government expressing their concern regarding Russia's failure to fully honor its recent commitment to allow U.S. poultry products back into Russia. The bipartisan group of senators who sent the letter noted that President Obama and President Medvedev reportedly came to an agreement on June 24 of this year to re-open the Russian market to U.S. poultry. However, since that agreement was reached, Russia has attempted to impose further restrictions on U.S. poultry products rather than move forward to implement the agreement the two presidents reached in June. The senators urged the Russian government to follow through on the commitment made by Russian President Medvedev and immediately allow full importation of U.S. poultry products into Russia without further delay.
"As the largest market for U.S. poultry exports, Russia's continual restrictions on U.S. poultry is of serious concern to Delaware farmers and farmers throughout the U.S.," said Sen. Carper. "Prolonged restrictions on U.S. poultry by Russia, which effectively continue to ban the majority of American poultry products from entering the Russian market, would result in a significant loss in revenue for Delaware's poultry industry and farmers who depend on it. We were all heartened earlier this summer when President Obama and President Medvedev reached an agreement to re-open the Russian market to U.S. poultry exports. Unfortunately since that agreement was reached, Russia has failed to live up to their end of the bargain and this is very disappointing to many of us. I hope they'll reconsider their opposition and once again allow the importation of U.S. poultry."
"Unfortunately, the Russians have gone back on their word and continue to practice protectionist policies that not only hurt American poultry producers, but also the Russian people who are being denied quality and affordable chicken," said Sen. Bond. "It is critical that President Obama press the Russian President to live up to his end of the bargain and quit punishing American poultry producers."
"Poultry producers are an important part of Ohio's economic livelihood, and many of my state's poultry producers rely on exports to countries like Russia to stay in business," said Sen. Sherrod Brown. "Part of the agreement worked out between President Obama and President Medvedev involved re-opening the Russian borders to poultry imports from American producers, and Russia should uphold its end of the bargain and drop this unnecessary trade restriction as soon as possible."
"Ensuring that Maryland's poultry producers have complete access to the global food market is incredibly important to sustaining Delmarva's largest industry. It's time for Russia to end its unfounded ban on U.S. poultry to both provide Russians with the world's finest poultry and to maintain important international business relations," said Sen. Cardin.
"I trust that the pledge made by the Russian President was made in good faith and that Russian markets will be open to poultry imports from states like Mississippi," said Sen. Cochran.
"The poultry industry is an important part of Minnesota's economy," said Sen. Franken. "Russia's failure to honor its agreement fully is a real disappointment. They should start holding up their end of the bargain immediately."
"Reopening the Russian market to U.S. poultry growers and processors is critically important for the 30,000 North Carolinians in the industry," said Sen. Hagan. "Russia needs to honor the agreement reached between President Obama and President Medvedev and put an end to the needless ban on U.S poultry. American farmers and their families depend on this important international trading relationship."
"U.S. poultry is completely safe for consumption and Russia's ban is unfounded," said Sen. Johanns. "It's past time for Russia to honor the commitment made in June and fully reopen its market to U.S. poultry. Russia has long been our largest poultry market and U.S producers deserve fair treatment."
"It is unacceptable that the Russian government is now backpedaling on the agreement made with President Obama in June. U.S. poultry producers have worked hard to meet the needs of Russia and their efforts should be trusted and accepted," said Sen. Kaufman.
"I am very disappointed that Russia continues to restrict U.S. poultry imports. Maryland's poultry industry is an important economic engine, and the poultry produced on the Delmarva peninsula is safe, healthy and fairly priced. Russia must honor the promise made by President Medvedev and eliminate the unwarranted trade restrictions immediately," said Sen. Mikulski.
Over the last three years, U.S. poultry exports to Russia averaged more than $800 million in value, making Russia the single largest U.S. export market. The poultry industry represents over 500,000 jobs in the United States.
The full text of the letter is below.
August 30, 2010
His Excellency Sergey I. Kislyak
Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the U.S.
2650 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20007
Dear Ambassador Kislyak,
As members from poultry-producing states throughout the United States, we are writing to express our deep concern with respect to Russia's failure to honor its recent commitment to allow U.S. poultry products back into Russia.
It was our understanding that President Obama and President Medvedev came to an agreement in June of this year to allow U.S. poultry imports into Russia. However, Russia has failed to implement the agreement.
Russia is a valuable trading partner to the poultry producers in our states. These actions are a set back to our countries' trade relations.
We ask you to honor the commitment our two presidents made less than two months ago and implement the agreement without further delay.
We thank you for your attention to this important matter that affects, not just our constituents, but the citizens of Russia as well.
Senator Tom Carper
Senator Christopher Bond
Senator Barbara Boxer
Senator Sherrod Brown
Senator Richard Burr
Senator Roland Burris
Senator Benjamin Cardin
Senator Bob Casey
Senator Thad Cochran
Senator John Cornyn
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senator Al Franken
Senator Chuck Grassley
Senator Kay Hagan
Senator Tom Harkin
Senator Johnny Isakson
Senator Mike Johanns
Senator Ted Kaufman
Senator Amy Klobuchar
Senator Mary Landrieu
Senator Richard Lugar
Senator Claire McCaskill
Senator Barbara Mikulski
Senator Mark Pryor
Senator Jeff Sessions
Senator Debbie Stabenow
Senator John Thune
Senator George Voinovich
Senator Mark Warner
Senator Jim Webb