A nearly five-year ban on imports of U.S. poultry was lifted by China on Nov. 14, as the two countries work to finalize a trade agreement.  

China has banned all U.S. poultry since January 2015 due to an avian influenza outbreak in December 2014, even though the United States has been free of this disease since August 2017. The United States exported over $500 million worth of poultry products to China in 2013, according to the U. S. Department of Agriculture. 

Reuters reported the lift of the ban being driven by an unprecedented shortage of meat in China after a fatal hog disease, African swine fever, killed millions of pigs in the pork-loving country over the past year.

Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, told Reuters China will likely buy all types of U.S. chicken, turkey and duck to offset the pork shortage.

The announcement of the lifted ban sent shares of major U.S. chicken processors, Sanderson Farms, Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride to new highs for the year on Nov. 14.

“The United States welcomes China’s decision to finally lift its unwarranted ban on U.S. poultry and poultry products. This is great news for both America’s farmers and China’s consumers,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in a press release.

Lighthizer predicted that U.S. poultry exports to China could surpass $1 billion a year.

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Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue said, “After being shut out of the market for years, U.S. poultry producers and exporters welcome the reopening of China’s market to their products. America’s producers are the most productive in the world and it is critical they be able to sell their bounty to consumers in other parts of the globe. We will continue our work to expand market access in important markets like China as well as other countries, to support our producers and U.S. jobs.”

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota said, “This announcement is finally a step in the right direction, especially for the more than 1200 poultry operations in my district. It’s something that I’ve pressed the Administration over and over on, including in my most recent conversation with Ambassador Doud at USTR. I hope the Administration can also make progress on the other trade access issues within the Chinese market, end these damaging tariffs, and help our farmers expand and develop new export markets.” 

Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Chairman Jim Costa of California added, "As the farm economy continues to struggle, it's important to get these incremental successes to show our producers that there's light at the end of the tunnel. Now I hope USDA can build on this development to increase access for U.S. farm and food products in China, but none of that can really take hold if the Administration isn't willing to reconsider its tariff strategy."

The United States is the world’s second largest poultry exporter, with global exports of poultry meat and products of $4.3 billion last year, according to the USDA.

Paul Weisman of the Associated Press contributed to this article. 

Carol Spaeth-Bauer at 262-875-9490 or Follow her on Twitter at cspaethbauer or Facebook at

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