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Agriculture Appropriations Bill Passes the Senate

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

(American Meat Institute)

The Fiscal Year 2010 Agriculture Appropriations bill (H.R. 2997) passed the Senate on August 4, 2009 by a vote of 80 to 17.  The House approved its version of the legislation last month.  Both the House and Senate version include full funding of $200 million for the Market Access Program (MAP) and $34.5 million for the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program. 

 

Another section of the bill, Section 744, included language on Chinese poultry.  The language in Section 744 states: None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to establish or implement a rule allowing poultry products to be imported into the United States from the People's Republic of China, unless the following conditions are met:

 

1.  The Secretary of Agriculture must formally commit in advance to conduct audits of inspection systems.

2. On-site reviews of slaughter and processing facilities, laboratories and other control operations must be undertaken before any Chinese facilities are certified as eligible to ship fully cooked poultry products to the U.S.

3.  These reviews must be repeated at least once annually in subsequent years.

4.  The Secretary must commit in advance to implement a significantly increased level of port of entry re-inspection.

5.  The Secretary must commit in advance to conduct information sharing with other countries importing poultry products from China that have conducted audits and plant inspections.

6.  This section of the law shall be applied in a manner consistent with United States obligations under international trade agreements.

 

The action taken by the Senate with regard to section 744 is significant as it provides a way for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to determine equivalency of inspection.  For the past two years USDA has been prevented from making this determination and China has consequently filed a World Trade Organization case against the United States.

 

A House-Senate conference committee will have to reconcile differences in the two versions of the legislation in September before it goes to the president to be signed.

 

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