US senators press Russia on poultry market
Thirty US senators have formally called on Moscow to implement "without further delay" a June agreement allowing the resumption of US poultry exports to Russia.
The lawmakers sent a letter on Monday to Russia's ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak, expressing "deep concern with respect to Russia's failure to honor its recent commitment to allow US poultry products back into Russia."
"These actions are a setback 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," they wrote.
The lawmakers noted that US poultry exports to Russia averaged more than 800 million dollars in value over the past three years -- the largest such export market -- and accounted for some 500,000 jobs in the United States.
The US Department of Agriculture gave the green light in late July for US poultry exporters to resume shipments to Russia after nearly a seven-month ban by what was once the largest foreign market for US chicken.
On January 1, Russia banned the import of chicken treated with chlorinated water, a procedure commonly used by US producers to disinfect.
Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced a deal to end the dispute after talks at the White House in late June.
In early August, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said the agreement had hit a snag when Moscow imposed an 11th-hour demand to send inspectors to verify that US poultry plants meet the agreement's protocols.
The letter came as US health officials have blamed contaminated chicken feed for a salmonella outbreak at two major US egg producers that has already sickened some 1,700 people and led to the industry's largest egg recall ever.
Two Iowa farms -- Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms -- recalled more than half a billion eggs last week after learning salmonella from their products sickened consumers. Several dozen egg brands in 22 US states were affected by the move.
© 2010 AFP