by Terry Rogers
On Friday, November 22, China authorized poultry imports from 172 facilities in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The lifting of the ban earlier in the month was part of a trade negotiation taking place between the United States and China.
“This is an excellent opportunity for local chicken farmers,” James Fisher of the Delmarva Poultry Association said. “This is a positive development for the families who raise poultry as well as the thousands of employees of processing plants located in Delmarva. The fact that China has lifted this ban vouches for the safety and quality of chickens grown here in the United States. We offer a tasty product.”
In 2015, China banned the import of chicken grown in the United States due to an outbreak of the highly contagious avian influenza. China kept the prohibition in place even after all other nationwide bans were removed when the influenza outbreak was over.
“Before the ban, China imported some poultry from the United States, but not a lot,” Fisher said. “Currently, about 10 percent of the chicken grown here on Delmarva is exported to other countries. Most of what we grow is consumed by U.S. citizens. The opening of the Chinese market is an excellent opportunity for us to send even more poultry overseas to be enjoyed by their citizens as well.”
The Department of Agriculture reports that exports to China are expected to be more than $1 billion per year. At its peak, exports to the country were $722 million for chicken and $71 million for turkey. Currently, China is experiencing a reduction in available protein as a deadly pig disease is cutting port output. Although the disease does not affect humans, many of Chinese people have decided to switch to chicken.
In 2018, the Delmarva chicken industry produced 605 million birds and generated $3.4 billion in value. Thanks to improvements in bird health and processing efficiency, the total weight of chickens processed grew by one percent, according to the Delmarva Poultry Association. There are more than 20,400 chicken company employees and there are almost 1,400 growers.
Companies that have been approved to export into China include Perdue Farms, LLC and Tyson Foods Inc., both of which have processing plants on Delmarva.
“We are excited to hear that more of the poultry grown here on Delmarva could find its way to China,” Fisher said. “This could be a huge economic boost not only for farmers but for other industries related to poultry as well.”
Sign up for you free digital subscription of The Weekly Review, delivered directly to your email every Tuesday morning. A quick cover-to-cover read to catch up on the news of the week and experience great stories about our local communities. Sign up for your free email subscription below.