SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA) — China’s poultry import ban was lifted for the first time since 2015, opening an opportunity for Arkansas producers to reenter the major global market.

“The lifting of the ban on poultry imports has been incredibly important to a region like mine that is known for its poultry production,” said Rep. Steve Womack (R).

University of Arkansas economist David Sorto said Arkansas produces more live poultry than any other state in the country. Exporting to China will help counterbalance some of the coronavirus’ potential negative impacts on the economy, as described by Sorto’s colleague Mervin Jebaraj.

“We’ll have to wait and see til we know how much more quarantine China’s gonna go through,” Jebaraj said.

Womack said he hopes the coronavirus’ escalation doesn’t shut off exports for a while before they begin.

“You open a door like that, then you can see doors close as the result of the outbreak of the coronavirus,” Womack said.

Tyson Foods doesn’t export live birds, which’ll also be accepted with the lifted ban. They’re the flagship poultry-product exporter in Northwest Arkansas, though, and they stand to benefit from this new development.

“As China lifts its poultry ban, we are well positioned to meet the growing global demand for quality protein,” said Worth Sparkman, Tyson spokesperson, in a written statement.

Arkansas has a great opportunity to capitalize, Womack said.

“Those are huge and growing markets for products that we’d like to find homes for,” Womack said.