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U.S. Meat, Poultry and Hide Industries Call Upon White house to Use All Necessary Authority to Reopen West Coast Ports

Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Washington, DC - The American Meat Institute (AMI) today urged President Bush to ensure the flow of U.S. meat, poultry and hide exports by utilizing his authority to reopen 29 West Coast ports closed by a labor-management dispute.

Five other associations joined AMI in a letter to the President, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation and the U.S. Hide, Skin and Leather Association.

The associations that signed the letter said the port closures are exacerbating an already difficult economic period for the livestock, meat, poultry and hide industries. Large volumes of domestic supplies, exacerbated by the six-month ban on U.S. poultry exports to Russia, have had a significant downward impact on both livestock prices and wholesale meat and poultry prices.

“Although most economists believe profitability may not return to this agricultural sector until next year, there have been some encouraging signs recently that seem to suggest the worst may be behind us,” the letter said. “Maintaining our exports is essential to restoring profitability to this industry.”

According to the letter, the meat and poultry industry exports as much as 20 percent of U.S. chicken production, 10 percent of beef and eight percent of pork, collectively valued at more than $12 billion annually. Many of the largest export markets are in the Pacific Rim and are transported through West Coast ports. Export markets like Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan account for 60 percent of beef exports, 50 percent of pork exports and one quarter of chicken exports, valued at more than $4 billion. Nearly 80 percent of U.S. hides worth $1 billion per year also are exported through West Coast ports.

“And because such a large volume of these meat and poultry exports are perishable, even the briefest interruption of shipping through West Coast ports will have a profound economic impact on the U.S. meat and poultry industry and on our Nation’s livestock producers,” the groups’ stressed. “We respectfully urge you to utilize your authority to ensure that shipments are immediately resumed through West Coast ports.”

AMI represents the interests of packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal and turkey products and their suppliers throughout North America. Together, AMI's members produce 95 percent of the beef, pork, lamb and veal products and 70 percent of the turkey products in the U.S. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute provides legislative, regulatory, public relations, technical, scientific and educational services to the industry. Its affiliate, the AMI Foundation, is a separate 501(c)3 organization that conducts research, education and information projects for the industry.

For more information contact:
Janet Riley
Vice President, Public Affairs
Josee Daoust
Manager, Public Affairs

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