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China lifts import ban on U.S. poultry, products

Country urging resumption of farm sales and livestock production to help farmers weather coronavirus impact.

China announced Feb. 14 that it is lifting restrictions on the import of live poultry and related products from the U.S., according to a statement jointly released by the General Administration of Customs and China's Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Affairs (MOA).

China banned U.S. poultry in January 2015 due to an avian influenza outbreak in the U.S. Last November, China announced that it planned to lift a ban on poultry meat imports, but the latest announcement includes live poultry.

According to U.S. poultry groups, renewed access to the Chinese market could result in $1 billion annually for chicken paws alone, and due to China's meat protein deficit as a result of African swine fever, there could be the potential for up to another $1 billion in exports of other chicken products, including leg and breast meat. Turkey exports could generate another $100 million in sales, and poultry breeding stock could generate at least $60 million more.

Prior to the ban, the annual value of poultry exports from the U.S. to China was $71 million for turkey and $722 million for chicken. The U.S. exported more than $500 million worth of poultry products to China in 2013.

Reopening ag for business

China’s MOA also announced efforts to reopen agricultural commerce channels and encourage business to help farmers weather the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The agency reported that the sales of vegetables, fruits and poultry have felt the pinch of blocked transport and sales channels.

Vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs Han Jun said on Feb. 17 that priority should be given to the purchase and delivery of agricultural products produced in impoverished regions.

In a separate announcement, China is urging local governments, except those in Wuhan and other areas in serious outbreak situations, to work toward resuming livestock production.

China’s National Development & Reform Commission, Ministry of Transport and MOA relayed that the livestock sector has been facing problems like feed supply shortages, transportation and sales difficulties as well as a lack of workers who can return to work.

The country is asking local governments to issue supportive measures and allow enterprises involving feed and livestock and poultry slaughtering and processing to resume work.

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