The Atlanta-based USA Poultry and Egg Export Council’s president, Jim Sumner, has issued a statement “flatly” rejecting the decision of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce claiming that U.S. chicken products are being dumped on the Chinese market.

“We flatly reject MOFCOM’s (the ministry) assertion that our industry dumped or sold subsidized U.S. chicken on the Chinese market,” Mr. Sumner said in a statement on Monday, Sept. 27.

He also said, “Regrettably, our industry has become the scapegoat and is bearing the brunt of China’s retaliation against the U.S. in an unrelated trade dispute. It’s truly unfortunate that our industry has ended up in this situation, especially because the issues that created this disaster were not of our making and are beyond our control.”

Mr. Sumner added that the ministry’s decision would be appealed.

The ministry announced the conclusion of its anti-dumping investigation on Sunday, Sept. 26, and said that it would impose punitive import duties of U.S. chicken parts.

According to the poultry council, the ministry launched its anti-dumping investigation a year ago in response to a petition filed by the Chinese Animal Agriculture Association.

The ministry specifically named three chicken producers that are to be penalized: Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. based in Pittsburgh, Texas; Keystone Foods LLC of West Conshokocken, Penn. and Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale, Ariz.

In addition, the ministry has imposed countervailing duties on U.S. poultry imports on grounds that the U.S. poultry industry benefits unfairly from U.S. government subsidies to corn and soybeans producers.

The poultry and egg council’s announcement called the claim a “highly questionable theory.”

On Sept. 28, the day after Mr. Sumner issued his statement, both U.S. senators from Georgia issued statements.

“The actions by the Chinese are unfortunate and based on a faulty interpretation of the facts,” said Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “I find it questionable to claim the poultry industry is the recipient of subsidies. It is regrettable the Chinese are targeting the industry to express their frustration with other trade matters. This tit-for-tat action will undoubtedly lead to increase tensions, rather than lessen them.”

“As one of the largest poultry producers in the country, Georgia has nearly three-fourths of its 159 counties involved in the poultry industry, and it could not come at a worse time as Pilgrim’s Pride prepares to reopen its plant in Douglas, Ga. This will only stifle economic growth at a time when Georgia’s economy can least afford it,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson. “I urge the Obama administration to make reversing these duties a high priority.”