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Poultry prices fall, but crop still tops state list
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A poor export market and depressed prices combined to drive down the 2002 value of poultry production by 17 percent, but the crop still retained its status as the state's No. 1 commodity.
Tim Chamblee, poultry management researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said the Russian poultry import ban removed a large part of the state's market. Other countries cut back on some imports over concerns of poultry disease in parts of the United States.
"Most of those issues have been resolved, but it's still harder to export to Russia because they have established more regulatory processes," Chamblee said.
The Russian import ban that began in April was said to be in response to U.S. processing conditions and the use of antibiotics, but the move coincided with a U.S. tariff on Russian steel. The steel tariff and the poultry import ban have been relaxed, but the market was slow to recover.
Mississippi State University agricultural economists project the 2002 value of poultry in Mississippi to be $1.4 billion, down from $1.7 billion in 2001. Production held steady, but prices dropped. The United States exported 5.1 billion pounds of chicken, or about 8 percent less than it exported in 2001.
Mississippi is the nation's 4th largest broiler-producing state, and ranks 5th in the number of pounds produced. The depressed national export market affected state producers.
"The big impact it had was reducing the amount of poultry meat moving overseas," Chamblee said. "That means there is more on the market in the United States, which is going to drive prices down. When that happens, companies will cut back on the amount produced, since they're not going to stay in the overproduction cycle for long."
Prices fluctuated during the year, starting down, moving up, then dropping again by year-end. Chamblee said the 12-city national average through October was almost 53 cents a pound for whole broilers. In October 2001, that price was just over 60 cents a pound.
Boneless breast prices, which bring a premium, held steady, but leg quarters, which make up the export market, dropped from almost 29 cents a pound in 2001 to 18 cents a pound by year-end.
"Prices came down because of oversupply, which relates to what the export market has done," Chamblee said. "Demand in the United States has stayed steady or even risen a bit, so the market influence has come from exports."
From a production perspective, it was a good year to grow broilers. Disease and heat had little affect on state production in 2002. Chamblee said the national industry was threatened over the summer from a low pathogenic strain of avian influenza, but the poultry-producing states did a good job containing its spread. Mississippi did not have an outbreak of this disease.
Contact: Dr. Tim Chamblee, (662) 325-3374