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WASHINGTON DC

U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack applauded an agreement reached with South African officials to allow most U.S. exports of poultry, pork and beef to re-gain access to the South African market.

The agreement, made in collaboration with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), is pursuant to an out-of-cycle review of South Africa conducted under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

Vilsack said the agreement was reached following intense U.S. government engagement with South African officials over the last year. Only a limited number of U.S. poultry and meat products have been exported to South Africa in recent years, due to unwarranted sanitary requirements by the South African authorities, with most poultry exports blocked for the last 15 years.

With this renewed access for U.S. red meat and poultry products, U.S. exports to South Africa could generate $75 million of shipments annually.

Vilsack said the agreement was good news for American farmers, ranchers and poultry, pork and beef companies.

'We welcome this move by South Africa and will continue our efforts to break down barriers and expand access for high-quality, safe and wholesome U.S. food and agricultural products around the world' Vilsack said. 'With this agreement, South Africa reaffirms the scientific soundness and integrity of the U.S. system for ensuring animal health and food safety, and this will result in high-quality U.S. meat and poultry being available for South African consumers.

Vilsack confirmed that the regained access for American meat and poultry exports is the culmination of many months of hard work by USDA and USTR staff.

'The past seven years have been the strongest in history for agricultural trade, with U.S. agricultural product exports totaling $911.4 billion since 2009,' Vilsack said. 'Strong agricultural exports contribute to a positive U.S. trade balance, create jobs and boost economic growth. Those exports supported approximately 1 million U.S. jobs last year.'

The Ag Secretary noted that the economy is strengthened in rural communities and throughout the entire country from the additional economic activity that flows from the expanded farm and processing business.

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