Mexico Easing U.S. Poultry Ban Shows Ebbing Threat of Flu
Tensions are easing in the U.S. poultry industry after Mexico, the top buyer of U.S. chicken and turkey, announced it will accept shipments of poultry products from the states that have detected cases of avian influenza in commercial flocks, as long as those products are destined for further domestic processing.
Cases of avian influenza were first reported in December – starting only in wild birds and backyard flocks. However, it soon spread along migratory routes including flyaways over the Mississippi River and the Great Plains to commercial flocks This has created the biggest U.S. bird flu outbreak on record, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
So far, California, Missouri, Minnesota, and Arkansas have detected cases, causing shares of both Tyson Foods and Sanderson Farms to plunge as it appeared the virus was spreading toward the heart of the U.S. poultry industry in the southeast. Tyson shares fell the most in nine months after reports that bird flu had been detected in its home-state of Arkansas. Both companies have increased their precautionary measures and their share prices have since recovered.
The products Mexico will now accept from the four states affected include raw chicken and turkey meat, whole turkeys, and chicken and turkey cuts, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Analysts believe that other nations will follow Mexico’s lead and in time China and South Korea are expected to lift their trade restrictions, but for the near term the status quo is expected to remain.