Lincoln, Chambliss urge Pres. Obama to address Russian trade barriers with Pres. Medvedev

By Agri-Pulse Staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, June 21 – Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln, (D-AR), Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss, (R-GA), and 23 other senators delivered a letter to President Barack Obama Monday urging him to address Russian trade barriers affecting U.S. poultry during his Thursday meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The senators emphasized that internationally recognized science methodology has shown U.S. poultry to be safe and that current restrictions are unwarranted.

Our poultry producers are required by USDA to meet very stringent food safety standards, which help them produce a safe and high-quality product. The Russians have failed to supply a reasonable, scientific explanation for restricting their market to U.S. poultry and we believe that their citing of safety concerns as reason for their trade barriers is baseless. The current economic climate has left many producers struggling and a continued absence from the Russian market, which is worth $800 million annually to American producers, would only increase the economic uncertainty our poultry farmers already face. President Obama’s meeting with President Medvedev offers a crucial opportunity to address this issue with the seriousness it deserves,” the senators said.

Over the last three years, U.S. poultry exports to Russia averaged more than $800 million peer year, making Russia the single largest U.S. poultry export market. The poultry industry represents over 500,000 jobs in the United States.

Full text of the letter is below.

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Next week, you are scheduled to meet with Russian President Medvedev for talks on improved collaboration between our two nations, in advance of the G-8 summit in Canada. While in some areas the level of cooperation between our two countries has improved, irritants remain in that relationship that require attention at the highest level. For the past five months, the Russian Federation has blocked poultry imports from the United States over the use of chlorine rinses in the production process. We believe the stalemate in the negotiations requires the attention of the leaders of both countries. We urge you to include this issue on the agenda of your meeting with President Medvedev to ensure that importation rules are based on science and consistent with international standards.

Over the last three years, U.S. poultry exports to Russia averaged more than $800 million in value, making Russia our single largest export market. The poultry industry in this country represents over 500,000 jobs in the United States and has a significant impact on countless other communities across the country.

Since 1990, Russia has imported U.S. poultry that was processed using chlorinated water to reduce pathogens and enhance food safety. Throughout this period, Russian authorities did not express any concern. Therefore, the current ban seems arbitrary and capricious. Science has shown the use of chlorine solutions to be a safe and cost effective way to maintain food safety during poultry processing. Additionally, we understand Russia is still buying poultry from other suppliers, such as Brazil, where some facilities use the same process as U.S. facilities, without guarantees that they are not using chlorine solutions. This disparity appears to be contrary to the Russian government’s assertions that its actions are being taken out of concern for the safety of its population.

The cumulative effect of the actions taken by Russia’s government has been to keep U.S. products entirely out of the Russian market. We believe the United States and Russia should work together to promote trade between our two countries and lower barriers that undermine the bilateral relationship. Your meeting with the Russian President in advance of the upcoming G-8 summit offers a crucial opportunity to address this issue with the seriousness it deserves. We urge you to use all means at your disposal to address this situation and we thank you for working with us.


  • Senator Blanche Lincoln, Chairman
  • Senator Saxby Chambliss, Ranking Member
  • Senator Kit Bond
  • Senator Barbara Boxer
  • Senator Richard Burr
  • Senator Ben Cardin
  • Senator Tom Carper
  • Senator Thad Cochran
  • Senator John Cornyn
  • Senator Al Franken
  • Senator Kay Hagan
  • Senator Orrin Hatch
  • Senator Johnny Isakson
  • Senator Mike Johanns
  • Senator Ted Kaufman
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar
  • Senator Mary Landrieu
  • Senator Richard Lugar
  • Senator Claire McCaskill
  • Senator Barbara Mikulski
  • Senator Mark Pryor
  • Senator Debbie Stabenow
  • Senator John Thune
  • Senator Mark Warner
  • Senator Jim Webb
The Honorable Ron Kirk, United States Trade Representative
The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture

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