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News 464 views update:Jan 12, 2010

USDA applauds agreement on poultry from china

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk have commended conferees on the agriculture appropriations bill, led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), chair of the Agriculture Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, on text slated for the FY 2010 agriculture appropriations conference report regarding the use of appropriated funds by USDA with respect to potential imports of poultry products from China.

The conference agreement would allow the USDA to use appropriated funds in FY 2010 to promulgate or implement a rule allowing imports of processed poultry or poultry products from China only after the Secretary of Agriculture notifies Congress that certain conditions have been met.

The USDA worked with Rep. DeLauro to craft the final language, which ensures the protection of the nation's food supply in a manner consistent with scientific principles as required under US international obligations. This result reflects the hard work and commitment of the Administration, Rep. De Lauro, Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), and all House and Senate conferees.

"We commend the conferees for reaching an agreement that protects food safety and public health in a manner consistent with our international obligations," said Vilsack. "The agreement reached by the conferees will maintain the safety of our food supply and ensure that America takes a leadership role in supporting a science and rules-based trading system."

"We are pleased that the conferees were able to reach agreement on language that provides a strong means to address food safety concerns while recognising the need to base health measures on scientific principles," said Kirk. "The conferees have acted in Americans' best interests in two ways: by insisting on the safety of our food supply, and also by maintaining America's leadership in the rules-based global trading system."

Under US law, poultry and poultry products may not be imported from any foreign country unless the USDA determines that the food safety standards, facilities, and conditions of that country achieve a level of sanitary protection equivalent to that achieved by US standards. If the USDA determines that a country achieves this level of protection for some or all poultry products, it issues a rule permitting import of such products, subject to border inspection and other requirements.

Natalie Berkhout

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