China Defends Ban on Virginia Poultry

China’s 2007 ban on poultry and logs shipped from Virginia, which remains in effect despite protest from local farmers, has cost the state millions of dollars. In 2007, Chinese officials discovered strains of the avian flu in some poultry shipments from Virginia, as well as invasive insect species in several log shipments. As a result, China issued a blanket ban on all poultry and log shipments from anywhere in Virginia, regardless of whether the materials were grown in the state or imported to the state.

The ban has cost millions of dollars. In addition to the obvious loss suffered by poultry and tree farmers, Virginia ports have suffered from a decline in business as a result of the ban. According to the Virginia Port Authority, state ports have seen a decline of about 4,000 to 5,000 containers a month during peak export seasons.

Virginia officials have pressured both federal and Chinese officials to end the ban. In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture wrote, “I am very concerned by the drastic action recently undertaken by China that bans all log exports from Virginia and South Carolina. This unilateral action is an extreme action that negatively impacts many small, family-owned enterprises in two states that are following the same export protocols as wood products exporters from other areas of the country.”

In a letter directly to the Chinese ambassador, Virginia’s Congressional delegation wrote, “Virginia currently ranks 12th, among U.S. states, in our agricultural exports to your country. Last year, the value of those exports reached $194 million, thus making the People’s Republic of China Virginia’s second-largest export customer.”

While many Virginians had hoped that Governor Bob McDonnell’s visit to China in May would end the ban, it remains in place and talks between agricultural officials and Chinese trade officials are moving forward at a glacial pace.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer