Flood Warning

Bird Disease Could Pressure Domestic Prices

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Poultry flocks in the central U.S. have been hit with outbreaks of avian influenza recently, and export markets are saying no to poultry products from states that have seen infections.

Outbreaks have occurred in Kansas and Missouri, as well as Minnesota, which leads the nation in turkey production, and in Arkansas, which is the number three state for chicken production.

President of Adel-based Paragon Economics, Steve Meyer, says it’s not so different from what happened recently when a labor dispute closed ports on the West Coast.

In that case, a backlog of pork meant for export resulted in a surplus, and pressured domestic wholesale prices. Meyer says that’s what analysts fear may happen if avian influenza spreads.

He says, "Now the latest case in Kansas really is not a big issue because there's not much commercial production there. But you know, the potential in Arkansas is pretty great. We've heard some rumors that some of those markets will ban only the county where it's been found. We haven't seen a confirmation of that and that's happened in years past when we've had avian influenza in the United States, and so we have to remember that these import markets, especially Mexico, they really don't want to ban large chunks of supply because they need the product."

Meyer says it’s a little too early to tell if avian influenza will discourage growth in poultry, but says it will depend on what happens next, and more importantly, where it happens.

He says, "Are there any more breaks? And do they occur in any commercial states. I mean, like I say, the one that occurred in Kansas this week, you know, that's not a major commercial state but you got all these, especially these western Arkansas, eastern Oklahoma, east Texas that are right in these migratory bird flyways they're really susceptible to any kind of vectors with wild birds. Georgia and Alabama are the number one and two states on chicken, they're not in one of those flyways and so maybe we'll be a little safer there."

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