After 17 years of being denied market access to the European Union, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) offers the “best, most viable opportunity” for U.S. poultry to once again be available to EU consumers, Bill Roenigk, consultant to the National Chicken Council, said this week at a stakeholders session conducted by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.  Roenigk, who was joined by more than 50 other speakers at the hearing, added that the likelihood is “extremely remote” of again having the leverage provided by T-TIP.

If U.S. poultry could again be exported to the European Union, annual sales would be in excess of $600 million, which would represent over 10 percent of the $5.62 billion of total poultry meat estimated to be exported by the United States in 2013. At $600 million, the European Union would be in the top three markets for U.S. poultry exports. Also, this amount would represent about one third of the EU’s total poultry import market. Much of the U.S. poultry shipped to the European Union would most likely include a wide variety of products, rather than chicken leg quarters that account for the bulk of overall U.S. poultry exports, Roenigk said.

U.S. poultry being denied access to the EU market is perhaps one of the best examples of how the European Union uses non-tariff barriers to prohibit agricultural trade. For decades, U.S. poultry was most acceptable to essentially all European countries. But, in 1997, U.S. poultry was declared by the European Union to be unacceptable, not because U.S. poultry producers changed anything; not because the U.S. government changed any regulations or requirements regarding poultry; and not because the United States suddenly had a poultry disease like “mad-chicken disease” that posed a threat to live animal or humans, but rather U.S. poultry was denied market access for the thinnest of scientific reasons, assuming the precautionary principle can be considered serious sound science, Roenigk stated.

USDA requires pathogen reduction treatments during poultry processing to better ensure food safety requirements are met. U.S. poultry processors cannot jeopardize having their operations disrupted in an attempt to meet the EU processing plant standards that are considered to be a command and control approach rather than a performance-based system.

No country in the world, except the United States,  produces more poultry more economically; has achieved a higher standard of food safety and wholesomeness;  produces a greater variety of value-added products, and exports to more countries around the world than any other nation, Roenigk said. A successful T-TIP agreement will be strongly supported by all U.S. poultry producers and processors that favor correcting a wrong that has lasted 17 years too long, he concluded.