UPDATE 1-China lifts import suspension on Virginia poultry

Mon May 5, 2014 3:46pm EDT

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(Adds comments from state officials, details)

By Ros Krasny

WASHINGTON May 5 (Reuters) - China has ended a ban on importing poultry and poultry products from Virginia that had been in place for almost seven years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Monday.

The ban, which covered all poultry produced in Virginia, poultry transiting through Virginia, and poultry that was exported from any port in Virginia, was imposed after a case of avian flu was identified in a single Virginia turkey flock in 2007 during routine testing.

"This is outstanding news for Virginia's poultry industry and the many related businesses that work to move product from our family farms into the global marketplace," Governor Terry McAuliffe said in a statement.

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said China's move was "expected to further facilitate exports of U.S.-origin poultry and poultry products to China."

China is the third largest export market for U.S. poultry and products, importing $503.6 million worth in 2013.

Virginia was the No. 5 turkey-producing state in 2012, according to the National Turkey Federation, and also ranks in the top chicken producers.

State officials, including McAuliffe and Agriculture Secretary Todd Haymore, have discussed the ban in recent months with top officials from China's embassy in Washington.

Haymore said Virginia "stands to gain $20 million or more in export sales each year" now that China's General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and Ministry of Agriculture has ended the ban.

"Chicken feet and wing tips may be worth a few cents per pound in the domestic market but can sell for many times this amount in China," Haymore said. (Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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