Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has announced that after almost seven years Virginia poultry exports resumed to the People’s Republic of China, with the first shipment leaving Perdue Foods Incorporated’s cold-storage export facility in Norfolk. This shipment from Perdue’s facility includes chicken wing tips, which will leave the Port of Virginia on Friday, and is expected to arrive in Shenzhen, Guangdong State, China on August 3rd. The Governor, who witnessed the poultry products being loaded at the Perdue facility, was joined by Perdue Foods Vice President, International Carlos Ayala and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore. Perdue anticipates increasing its volumes shipped from Virginia by roughly 35% this year as a result of the ban being lifted.
Commenting on the now-resumed poultry export business to China, Governor McAuliffe said, “I am thrilled to see poultry products being exported from Virginia to China for the first time since 2007. I made having the long-standing ban removed a top economic priority of my administration, so I wanted to be in Norfolk to witness firsthand the vessel being loaded. The resumption of business means more trade and revenue generation opportunities for Virginia’s poultry industry and the many related businesses that work to move product from our family farms into the global marketplace. This will also bring significant benefits to the Port of Virginia, an entity that I want to become the East Coast capital for agricultural and forestry product exports.”
In 2007, following an isolated case of low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) reported on a single farm in Virginia, China placed a ban on all poultry produced in Virginia, poultry transiting through Virginia, and poultry that is exported from any port in Virginia. Virginia and federal officials 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. Because of the ban, Virginia had been excluded from taking advantage of business in this high growth market. China is currently one of the top foreign markets for U.S. poultry, purchasing more than $416 million last year, with Georgia, Mississippi, and North Carolina as leading suppliers.
Secretary Haymore noted, “Today’s shipment marks a great day for Virginia’s poultry industry and Virginia’s growing relationship with China, our largest export customer of agricultural and forestry products. We estimate conservatively that Virginia will see at least $20 million in poultry exports to China during the first full year the market is open, but we’re hoping to far exceed that number. We have great assets that will allow us to accomplish that goal including: Virginia’s existing business with China; the Governor’s commitment to expanding that business; our agricultural trade representative in Shanghai working to generate new sales leads; and an aggressive poultry industry producing high quality and wholesome products. I am confident that we have the infrastructure in place to quickly re-establish Virginia as one of China’s top poultry purchasers.”
On May 5, Chinese and U.S. officials notified the McAuliffe Administration that the ban, instituted in July 2007, was rescinded by China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) and China’s Ministry of Agriculture (MOA). From January until late April, Governor McAuliffe and Secretary Haymore met and worked with numerous partners to lift the ban, including: Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai; U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus; U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack; and U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Michael Froman. The McAuliffe administration’s focus on resolving this trade issue built upon work that Virginia officials, including former Governor Bob McDonnell, Senator Mark Warner, Senator Tim Kaine, Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA 7th), Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA 6th), and Congressman Robert Hurt (R-VA 5th), among others, did over the last seven years to re-open the Chinese market to Virginia poultry. Hobey Bauhan of the Virginia Poultry Federation and Jim Sumner of the U.S.A. Poultry & Egg Export Council were also instrumental in Virginia’s work with U.S. authorities and Chinese government officials.
China ranked as the number one market for Virginia’s agricultural exports in 2013 with more than $580 million in purchases. However, the country’s market has remained closed to Virginia poultry products for the past seven years. 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.