U.S. Exports at Risk as Bird Flu Hits Heart of Poultry Country
After scattered cases of bird flu have been reported in other states, last week the U.S. government confirmed cases in Minnesota and Missouri, the country’s biggest and fifth biggest turkey producing states, respectively. This week, the government also confirmed the detection of H5N2 at a turkey farm in Arkansas – the country’s third biggest chicken producing state and home to the world’s biggest chicken company, Tyson Foods Inc.
The day following the announcement of the Arkansas case, Mexico, Canada, and the EU imposed new import restrictions banning U.S. poultry imports from Arkansas, Missouri, California, Minnesota, Washington and Oregon. China and South Korea already have complete bans on U.S. poultry imports in place. The USA Poultry and Egg Export Council expects the announcement of the detection of the virus in Arkansas to bring similar restrictions against U.S. poultry and eggs from as many as 40 additional countries, likely resulting in downward pressure on prices and hurting the $5.7 billion export market.
The U.S. exports approximately 20% of the chicken it produces, according to the Livestock Marketing Information Center, and 14% of the turkey it produces, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Trade restrictions due to the virus could drive down U.S. prices for dark meat chicken, which accounts for the majority of exports, by between 5% and 10%, according to the University of Arkansas.
Major U.S. poultry companies have declined to comment on pricing or the effect the announcement and trade restrictions will have upon their business, however Tyson Foods did state that the company has the ability to ship from various states and believes that it will be able to meet both domestic and global market demand.