Published July 1967 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
From the Office of United States Senator Robert C. Byrd 105 Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. 20510 Volume VII -- Number 27 July 7, 1967 Byrd's Eye View A Public Service Column by Senator Robert C. Byrd U. S. POULTRY STARS IN EXPORT DRAMA The American chicken may yet become an international figure attracting considerably more news attention than any fine-feathered jet set member of international society. The story of the U. S. assault on the poultry markets abroad is about to begin its third phase. Phase one had its beginning in 1956 with a concerted effort to develop a worldwide poultry market. So successful were the efforts of U. S. poultry producers that within a few years this export development was labeled "the U. S.IS outstanding success story in developing a new market abroad." Since then, the drop from the pinnacle of poultry export sales success of 173 million pounds in 1962 to a current loss of $46 million in market sales annually has made it necessary for poultry growers to rip off that titling and toss it in the trash can. That dramatic drop was the climax of the second phase of action in U. S. poultry export selling, with sales to West Germany occupying a major role. Under a U. S. export program which got under way in 1956, West Germany became an excellent market for U. S. frozen poultry. German chicken eaters were enthusiastic buyers of the U.S. chilled birds. From sales of virtually nothing in poultry products in West Germany prior to 1956, the market opened up to absorb millions of pounds of poultry products, including 152 million pounds of frozen poultry in 1962. This was made possible through gradual removal of West German export levies on U.S. poultry products, under pressure from chicken-loving citizens. Then in 1964, the European Economic Community (EEC)--composed of a grouping of major European Nations, including West Germany--instituted a complicated system of levies and charges which acted as a brick wall in blocking U.S. poultry imports. West Virginia poultry growers will recall vividly the news stories of the "Chicken War." Again using West Germany as an example, in 1962, the German poultry consumer could buy U. S. poultry by paying a 5-cent-a-pound import duty. In 1963, the total import fees were jumped to 13 cents a pound, a highly excessive rate. Obviously, U.S. poultry at 43 cents per pound could not sell competitively with European-grown poultry. The sudden drop off in the poultry market hit the American bird producers hard, as West Virginia poultry raisers can unfortunately testify. Now another act in the U.S. poultry export story is unfolding. This third phase of the poultry saga involves the yet unanswered question of the effect of changes in tariffs within the U.S. and among those foreign countries which are signatories of the new trade agreements reached under the Kennedy Round of Trade Negotiations just completed in Geneva, Switzerland. U. S. tariffs on imports from abroad were generally cut by approximately 50 percent. It is not yet fully apparent what reciprocal cuts may have been made by other Nations, but it is stated that, overall, the results with relation to removing barriers to U. S. agricultural exports were considerably more modest than originally hoped. It is feared that, in translation, this may boil down to mean that U. S. poultry producers'cannot expect to recapture the lost European chicken sales market and may have to look elsewhere for a better future.