Virginia Farm Bureau News Lead: Easing of Chinese ban on Virginia logs good news for exporters

This story will appear in the May 31st edition of News Leads, the week’s top ag stories sent out by the VFB Communications Department to media across the state.

China has agreed to re-open its market to exports of Virginia logs, turning around an outstanding barrier to trade between the two countries.

Bans by the Chinese government on poultry and logs from Virginia have proven to be ongoing challenges for the state’s agriculture, forestry and shipping sectors.

“China is our second largest agricultural trade partner and the ban was negatively impacting both Virginia’s exporters and our valued customers in China,” said Gov. Bob McDonnell when he announced a six-month pilot project to re-open the Chinese market to Virginia’s hardwood and softwood log exporters. “My administration will continue working with all involved parties to see that this pilot program is successful and eventually leads to full open market access.”

In April 2011, China banned log exports from Virginia and South Carolina after insects were found in some shipments.

Under the terms of the pilot project, Virginia logs will be allowed to re-enter China beginning June 1 via designated ports and with enhanced pest treatment and testing protocols.

J.J. Keever, Virginia Port Authority senior deputy executive director for external affairs, estimated that the ban was stopping the export of 4,000 to 5,000 shipping containers a month from Virginia during logging season.

“Around 80 percent of forestland in the Commonwealth is privately owned; re-opening the Chinese market is great news for these forestland owners. This will again increase the shipment of their timber grown right here in Virginia. “said Andrew Smith, Senior Assistant Director of Governmental Relations for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

Virginia agricultural and forestry exports totaled $2.24 billion in 2010, which is that state’s second-highest amount ever. Exports of some Virginia commodities increased in 2011 including pork, poultry, soybeans and wood products.

At the end of 2011, Virginia’s secretary of agriculture and forestry Todd Haymore said the record-high exports were good news but the Chinese ban on logs and poultry was an ongoing trade barrier.

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