Letter to Robert Lighthizer, US Trade Representative - Womack Calls for Level Playing Field for U.S. Poultry Producers in U.K. Trade Negotiations


Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:

Thank you for all the work the Administration has done to open markets around the world and maintain a fair playing field for the U.S. poultry industry. We also appreciate all the hard work you, your colleagues, and the Administration have dedicated towards promoting and establishing a new trade agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States. With the imminent launch of trade talks between the U.K. and the U.S., we the undersigned stress the importance of including U.S. poultry products in the agricultural chapter of any new trade agreement with the U.K.

As you may be aware, as part of the European Union (E.U.), the U.K. adhered to the E.U.'s food safety standards established in 1997 that banned U.S.-exported poultry due to standard antimicrobial washes used in American poultry production. However, with its departure from the E.U. on January 31, 2020, we are in a position to negotiate an agreement with the U.K. that resolves this unscientific ban once and for all.

U.S.-produced poultry is safe, and inspections throughout the entire poultry production process ensure consumer safety. Antimicrobial spray washes are used in the production process to improve food safety. All rinses, including chlorine, must be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and their use is limited to specific amounts. This is just one step in the process -- the USDA also inspects all poultry produced in the U.S. Additionally, only an estimated 10% of the processing plants in the U.S. use chlorine throughout production. Scientific research, including that of the European Food Safety Authority, confirms using chlorine-washed poultry does not pose any human health concerns, nor is it present in the final product. The U.S. food safety system is second to none, and it is built on extensive scientific research to assure safety of the product and the process.

As the second largest exporter of chicken and largest exporter of turkey, the U.S. sends poultry products to more than 120 countries around the world. Adding a new market like the U.K. will continue the momentum gained by opening markets like China and Japan to our poultry industry. Lifting this ban will set the stage for future agreements, such as with the E.U., and reinforce the Administration's stance that U.S. farmers and ranchers are an integral part of the American economy that should not be left behind.

Thank you for your leadership on this important issue and for considering this critical request during future trade negotiations with the U.K. We look forward to your response.