Franken calls on Russia to reopen market to poultry imports

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) today (Tuesday, Aug. 31)joined a bipartisan group of 29 of his colleagues in urging the Russian government to immediately reopen their market to U.S. poultry imports.

In June, Sen. Franken requested that President Obama address the Russian ban on U.S. poultry products with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, and following the meeting between the two presidents an agreement was reached to reopen the market.

However, since that agreement was reached, Russia has attempted to impose further restrictions on U.S. poultry products rather than move forward to fully implement the agreement the two leaders reached in June.

“Poultry is a billion-dollar industry in Minnesota and Russia is one of the largest importers of our goods,” said Sen. Franken.“Russia’s lack of follow through to reopen their market to our products is hurting Minnesota’s farmers and agriculture industry and that’s just something I can’t stand for. I will continue to do whatever I can to make sure the ban is lifted as soon as possible.”

Prior to calling on President Obama to address the Russian U.S. poultry ban, Sen. Franken reached out to the U.S. Trade Representative Office to overturn the ban.

Over the last three years, U.S. poultry exports to Russia averaged more than $800 million in value, making Russia the single largest U.S. export market. Combined, the production of turkey, chicken eggs, and broiler chickens makes poultry a $1 billion industry for Minnesota. Turkey alone accounts for $600 million; Russia has been the third largest importer of Minnesota turkey. The poultry industry represents over 500,000 jobs in the U.S.

The full text of Sen. Franken’s letter, along with the colleagues that signed on, can be found below:

August 31, 2010

His Excellency Sergey I. Kislyak
Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the U.S.
2650 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC  20007

Dear Ambassador Kislyak,

As members from poultry-producing states throughout the United States, we are writing to express our deep concern with respect to Russia’s failure to honor its recent commitment to allow U.S. poultry products back into Russia.

It was our understanding that President Obama and President Medvedev came to an agreement in June of this year to allow U.S. poultry imports into Russia. However, Russia has failed to implement the agreement. Russia is a valuable trading partner to the poultry producers in our states. These actions are a set back to our countries’ trade relations.
We ask you to honor the commitment our two presidents made less than two months ago and implement the agreement without further delay. We thank you for your attention to this important matter that affects, not just our constituents, but the citizens of Russia as well.   

Sincerely, Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Kit Bond (R-Mo.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Roland Burris (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mike Johanns (R-Nebr.), Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), John Thune (R-S. Dak.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Jim Webb (D-Va.)

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