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Poultry Nets Top State Ag Value
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- State poultry producers saw record broiler and egg production with 1997 values up 6 percent to more than $1.43 billion.
Dr. Wallace Morgan, head of Mississippi State University's poultry department, said the state's poultry industry has grown steadily for the last 10 years. Mississippi now ranks No. 4 nationally in broiler production.
"Domestic consumption continues to increase, our exports have been growing very rapidly and Mississippi has been a favored state for growth," Morgan said.
With Texas leading in growth rate, Mississippi has the second fastest growing poultry industry. The state has the needed business infrastructure to support the industry and is geographically well-located.
"The ports at Gulfport and Pascagoula export 25 percent of all the poultry in the United States," Morgan said. "Gulfport is the largest port in the nation for exporting poultry with 49 percent of its tonnage being chicken."
This year, average live weight of Mississippi broilers was 4.6 pounds, the same as last year. With 675 million birds grown, Mississippi produced 3.1 billion pounds of broilers with a production cost of 38 cents a pound.
"In the last 10 years, Mississippi has doubled the number of chickens grown, and we've more than doubled the pounds produced because we're growing a bigger chicken," Morgan said.
Morgan projected the recent intense growth rate cannot be sustained indefinitely. All but one of Mississippi's processing plants are working double shifts and until another plant is built, there is very little remaining processing capacity.
"That growth may also slow due to a little softer demand from the Asian market," Morgan said. "This may not lead to a decrease, but growth will probably slow based on the decrease in exports."
Mike McAlpin, president of the Mississippi Poultry Association, said 1997 was good to farmers, but tough for companies for the second consecutive year.
"Last year, it was lean because grain prices went so high," McAlpin said. "The law of supply and demand caught up with us this year, and we are 10 cents a pound behind last year."
This problem was caused by oversupplied markets and export problems with the former Soviet Union and some other countries.
Profitability in the industry depends on production costs and how well markets are developed, Morgan said.
"Mississippi companies are competitive nationwide and farmers are doing real well," Morgan said. "But production and marketing costs have limited the amount of money companies are making."