Richmond – Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today (May 5) that after almost seven years, Virginia poultry exports will resume to the People's Republic of China.
The McAuliffe administration was told that the ban, instituted in July 2007, has been rescinded by China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) and China's Ministry of Agriculture (MOA).
"This is outstanding news for Virginia's poultry industry and the many related businesses that work to move product from our family farms into the global marketplace," McAuliffe said. "Strengthening Virginia's economy is my number one priority and the lifting of this ban is certainly good news for Virginia's economy.
"Poultry is the largest individual sector of Virginia's agriculture industry and increased exports will help support farm, processing, and transportation related jobs in the Commonwealth. This will also bring enormous business benefits to The Port of Virginia at a critical time for that entity."
In recent months, McAuliffe and Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore have discussed the issue with top officials from China's Embassy in Washington, D.C., officials from several federal agencies and members of Virginia's congressional delegation.
Since 2007, following an isolated case of low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) reported on a single farm in Virginia, China has maintained a ban on all poultry produced in Virginia, poultry transiting through Virginia, and poultry that is exported from any port in Virginia. Virginia officials have long contended that China's ban was not justified by scientific data, as the isolated LPAI occurrence did not pose a food safety or poultry health risk.
Virginia's work to resolve the ban with federal and Chinese officials began in late 2007 under then-Governor Tim Kaine. During Virginia trade missions to Asia in 2011 and again in 2013, then-Governor Robert McDonnell and Haymore held meetings with government officials in China regarding the poultry ban. As a result, last March Virginia worked with federal officials US Department of Agriculture to host a technical delegation from the Chinese regulatory agencies that were responsible for the ban. The technical delegation conducted site visits and meetings in Virginia, examining farm and food safety protocols and testing. This work, along with other efforts over the last seven years, ultimately led to the resolution of the ban.
"Based on China's current poultry purchases from other nearby states, we believe that Virginia stands to gain $20 million or more in export sales each year," Haymore said. "China is a good market for certain items that are not of high value in the domestic market, but can be an important income generator for poultry processors.
"Chicken feet and wing tips are considered a delicacy in some parts of China. Reopening the market to these Virginia products adds commercial value to the product. Chicken feet and wing tips may be worth a few cents per pound in the domestic market but can sell for many times this amount in China."
China ranked as the number one market for Virginia's agricultural exports in 2013 with more than $580 million in purchases. The total value of Virginia poultry exports exceeded $186 million in 2013, with China absent as a major potential market for Virginia. Agricultural and forestry exports from Virginia reached a record high of $2.85 billion in 2013.
The poultry industry is the largest individual sector of Virginia's agriculture industry. With annual farm cash receipts in excess of $950 million, poultry accounts for more than 30 percent of all Virginia's cash receipts from agriculture. Virginia's poultry industry depends on fair access to foreign markets in order to support continued prosperity.
According to a 2013 economic impact study conducted by Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, agriculture is Virginia's largest industry, generating more than $52 billion per annum. The industry also provides more than 310,000 jobs in the Commonwealth.