Ag Spending Bill Conferees Reach Deal on Imports of China Poultry

September 24, 2009 07:00 PM

Pro Farmer Editors

House-Senate negotiators on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 Ag appropriations bill may have diffused a trade dispute with China over poultry.

Lawmakers reached a deal which would allow USDA to use appropriated funds in FY 2010 to promulgate or implement a rule allowing imports of processed poultry or poultry products from China only after the Secretary of Agriculture notifies Congress that certain conditions have been met.

Previously, lawmakers had used the appropriations process to deny USDA the ability to move forward on the issue, effectively keeping the Chinese poultry products out of the United States. And, it had prompted China to pursue action via the WTO.

In fact, the WTO today announced the formation of a three-person dispute settlement panel to investigate China's claims that the U.S. was unfairly blocking imports of Chinese poultry products.

Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT) today hailed the deal reached via the appropriations conference. "From the very beginning, I have insisted that the question of processed Chinese poultry imports be taken as a public health issue that must not be entangled in trade discussions," DeLauro said in a statement. "This conference report language provides meaningful assurances that the public health will be protected and that adequate preventive measures will be taken to ensure poultry products from China are safe. The final conference language would firmly establish that Chinese poultry imports must live up to American sanitary conditions before being shipped to the United States."

Meanwhile, the National Pork Producers Council today commended conferees on the agriculture appropriations bill with respect to potential imports of poultry products from China.

The group said that action "sends a strong signal to China" that the U.S. is living up to its world trade commitments. "We expect China to do the same," NPPC President Don Butler said. In August, NPPC issued a grassroots call to action, asking pork producers around the country to contact their members of Congress and urge them to find a science-based solution to the issue. And, at a critical point in the appropriations negotiations in mid-September, more than 130 pork producers came to Washington to meet with their congressional delegations on the issue.

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