WASHINGTON—More than $1 billion worth of poultry and poultry products are expected to be exported to China in the coming year, following the dissolution of a U.S. poultry ban imposed since 2015.

China banned imports following a 2014 avian influenza outbreak. U.S. poultry has been free of the disease since August 2017.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said reopening China to U.S. poultry “will create new export opportunities for our poultry farmers and support thousands of workers employed by the U.S. poultry industry.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports the U.S. is the world’s second-largest poultry exporter, with global sales of poultry products valued at $4.3 billion last year.

Virginia’s poultry industry has generated almost $13 billion overall in statewide economic activity, supporting 52,000 direct and indirect jobs, according to the Virginia Poultry Federation. There are more than 1,100 family-owned poultry farms in the commonwealth.

Jacki Easter of Amelia County, a member of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Poultry Advisory Committee, is one of those farmers. Her family raises broilers, and she expressed relief that China lifted the ban.

“My first reaction was, ‘Hallelujah,’” Easter said. “This is definitely good news. We need all the markets that we can have available, and China has been a huge market for U.S. poultry.”

The economic effects of a ban, and the lifting of one, are felt exponentially. In addition to raising broilers, the Easters produce feed grain that is largely fed to poultry.

“When you’re not moving those chickens, that means you’re not moving that grain,” she explained. “But with a greater demand for poultry comes more demand for feed grain for poultry.”

Easter pointed out that increased demand for those products means farmers will buy more equipment and hire more workers, further strengthening the economy as a whole.

 

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