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Rep. Clyde Leads Bipartisan, Bicameral Letter to Protect Poultry Exports

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Representatives Andrew Clyde (R-GA) and Sanford Bishop (D-GA) and Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Chris Coons (D-DE) led 54 of their colleagues in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Administrator Dr. Michael Watson urging the USDA to advocate for the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) to adopt the definition of "poultry" unanimously approved by the United States Animal Health Association (USAHA).


The lawmakers explain the key differences between the WOAH and USAHA’s "poultry" definitions. 


"The current WOAH definition fails to appropriately distinguish commercial poultry involved in international trade from backyard or wild birds posing minuscule trade transmission risk. Over a year ago, the United States Animal Health Association (USAHA) proposed a reasonable definition change that would rightly recognize neighbors gifting backyard poultry eggs to others as non-commercial. It would also exclude birds that are raised to be released at hunting preserves from being considered poultry for international trade purposes."


Additionally, the lawmakers detail how the current definition is costing America’s poultry producers.


"The current outdated definition is costing America’s poultry producers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost exports through unwarranted trade disruptions enabled by WOAH’s inadequate definition. There are countless examples across numerous states of isolated cases of HPAI detections in backyard or wild birds prompting unnecessary trade bans, even though they pose a minuscule threat of infecting commercial flocks. This past year alone, multiple states across the U.S. suffered nearly $900 million in disrupted overseas chicken, turkey, and egg sales."


The bipartisan group of lawmakers offers examples of how the outdated "poultry" definition is impacting various poultry-producing states.


"Despite the absence of genuine threats to their domestic poultry, China currently maintains bans on 14 U.S. states with zero active outbreaks. Examples of severe trade impacts include Georgia’s poultry industry, which is facing an estimated annual loss of $300 million due to an isolated outbreak in a small duck flock that would never have entered commerce nor have been destined for export. More examples include North Carolina losing approximately $113 million due to trade bans, Indiana processors’ daily revenue loss is in the hundreds of thousands, California producers losing up to $80 million per year due to poultry product bans, and Arkansas’ overseas revenues falling by over $44 million year-over-year. Yet, there has been little progress in changing this definition, even as U.S. producers face mounting losses from unwarranted bans over isolated HPAI detections."


In closing, the cosigners urge the USDA to advocate for the USAHA’s proposed definition change to protect the United States’ agricultural competitiveness.


"We firmly support this pragmatic change. After over a year of inaction from WOAH, we strongly encourage you to advance this reasonable proposal to limit subsequent trade disruptions. America’s agricultural competitiveness depends on having fair, up-to-date global animal health rules, which would provide our producers with a level playing field."


Read the full letter HERE.


Cosigners include Representatives Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC), Rick Allen (R-GA), Troy Balderson (R-OH), Jim Banks (R-IN), Dan Bishop (R-NC), Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Kat Cammack (R-FL), Buddy Carter (R-GA), Troy Carter (D-LA), Ben Cline (R-VA), Mike Collins (R-GA), James Comer (R-KY), Jim Costa (D-CA), Don Davis (D-NC), Mike Ezell (R-MS), Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Michael Guest (R-MS), Andy Harris (R-MD), Richard Hudson (R-NC), Ronny Jackson (R-TX), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Trent Kelly (R-MS), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Lucy McBath (D-GA), Lisa McClain (R-MI), Rich McCormick (R-GA), Max Miller (R-OH), Barry Moore (R-AL), Greg Murphy (R-NC), Wiley Nickel (D-NC), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), John Rose (R-TN), Deborah Ross (D-NC), David Rouzer (R-NC), Austin Scott (R-GA), David Scott (D-GA), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Chris Smith (R-NJ), David Valadao (R-CA), Daniel Webster (R-FL), Bruce Westerman (R-AR), Steve Womack (R-AR), and Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).


Supporting organizations include the Alabama Contract Poultry Growers Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, Amlan International, Cantrell Mechanical Solutions, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tyler Harper, Georgia Farm Bureau, Georgia Poultry Federation, JBS Foods/Pilgrim's Pride, Mar-Jac Poultry, National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, U.S. Animal Health Association, U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, and Wayne-Sanderson Farms.


"The Georgia Department of Agriculture fully supports this bipartisan effort to encourage WOAH to update their overly broad definition of poultry," said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper. "As the nation’s leader in poultry production, thousands of Georgians who make their living in our state’s poultry industry have been negatively impacted by the current definition, and it is well past time for it to be updated."


"This letter led by Congressmen Bishop and Clyde urging the World Organization of Animal Health to redefine 'poultry' to exclude private backyard flocks and game birds is a positive step forward," said Tom McCall, President of the Georgia Farm Bureau. "By excluding these populations, the new definition would help ensure that avian influenza cases within these groups do not disrupt poultry exports. This adjustment will safeguard the global poultry trade while allowing for targeted measures to contain and manage outbreaks within non-commercial poultry populations."


"We are very thankful to Representatives Andrew Clyde and Sanford Bishop for spearheading the bipartisan effort to encourage WOAH to revise the definition of poultry to exclude detections of avian influenza in backyard settings and other operations unrelated to the commercial production of poultry products destined for export," said Mike Giles, President of the Georgia Poultry Federation. "A reasonable revision of the WOAH definition is necessary and warranted to ensure that exports of commercial poultry products are not unfairly impacted by detections of avian influenza in these types of settings."


"CMS Mechanical Solutions, Inc. (CMS) is in full support of the efforts made by our congressional leaders, including Reps. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) and Sanford Bishop (D-GA), to redefine the outdated definition of ‘poultry’ by the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH). This redefinition aims to prevent disruptions in commercial poultry exports due to HPAI detection in non-commercial flocks or hunting preserves," said Heath Jarrett, President of CMS. "The existing definition has led to significant losses for poultry-producing states, including Georgia, my home state. It’s crucial that we act immediately to secure the position of American agriculture in the global market and address these unjustified interruptions in business with our main trading partners."


"The National Turkey Federation (NTF) is supportive of a revised definition of ‘poultry’ to ensure that commercial turkey exports are no longer interrupted in the event of an HPAI detection within a non-commercial flock or hunting preserve," said Joel Brandenberger, NTF President & CEO. "WOAH’s inaction in clarifying the definition has resulted in major losses for the nation’s turkey-producing states. The time to act is now to safeguard American agriculture’s place in the global marketplace and address these unwarranted halts in business with key trading partners. NTF thanks key congressional leaders such as Reps. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) and Sanford Bishop (D-GA) for their support and leadership in this effort to protect U.S. poultry exports."

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