December 20, 2011

Poultry remains top commodity in Mississippi



Despite a weakening economy, poultry remained the top commodity in Mississippi, with a preliminary estimated value of US$2.4 billion for 2011.


While the total estimated value of poultry was up by only a fraction of a percentage point, the estimated value of eggs increased by 24%. Both broiler and chicken values decreased slightly in 2011.


"The main driver of eggs was price," said John Michael Riley, Mississippi State University Extension Service agricultural economist. "There wasn't a whole lot of variation in production or the final value of broilers."

Broilers' estimated value dropped 2% in 2011, to US$2.2 billion. High input costs and some cutbacks caused the slight decrease.


"The biggest challenge this year was the cost of feed," Dr Riley said. "We saw a lot of this nationwide, with poultry firms going out of business and filing for bankruptcy. Their costs just got ahead of their revenues."


Broiler prices were mostly level and are expected to be about the same in 2012.


Danny Thornton, MSU Extension poultry specialist, said energy costs also played a role in the overall slight decrease in production.


"Fuel prices have gone up for electricity, diesel and propane. Booked prices for propane are about US$0.50 per gallon higher than 2010," Dr Thornton said. "Both feed and energy costs have caused producers to cut back and drop the number of birds they have."


Even with high feed and energy costs, Mississippi producers fared pretty well.


"We're not too far off from normal," Dr Riley said. "The poultry industry is right in line with the annual value since 2005."


Nationally, Mississippi ranks fifth in actual value of production of broilers, behind Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama, and North Carolina.


Mississippi producers had a total of 800 million chicks placed in 2011. Cal-Maine, a Mississippi-based egg producer, had 1.5 million to 2 million birds producing in 2011.


"It's been a rough year for poultry producers, but it's looking better," Dr Thornton said. "Corn prices are easing down and retail chicken prices are going up. Chicken is still an economical, healthy protein, and that will continue to be true. Before long I think we'll see some new markets open up."


Overall poultry production is predicted to be about the same for 2012.


"There has been a pull-back in supply this year because of the high input costs associated with production," Dr Riley said. "For 2012, the question is what is demand going to be? We are cautiously optimistic because the economy is still pretty tough."


Forestry was the second highest commodity in the state, with a total estimated value of US$1 million. The current estimated 2011 year-end harvest value of all agricultural commodities is US$6.7 million. Final figures will be determined in February 2012.

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