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Poultry, egg production overcomes export decline
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's poultry and egg industries are proving they are strong, viable contributors to the state's economy despite a national decline in exports during 2004.
While some industries may be scaling back or outsourcing, Mississippi's No. 1 agricultural industry is on track for an increase in its farm-gate value for 2004. The 2003 poultry value for Mississippi was $1.6 billion.
Tim Chamblee, associate poultry science professor at Mississippi State University, said broiler production is up 4 percent nationally and statewide, and national egg production is up 2 percent from 2003. U.S. exports in the first half of the year were 14 percent lower than during the same period in 2003 because of avian influenza in some flocks in states such as Virginia and Texas.
"The Mississippi flocks have been relatively disease free this year," Chamblee said. "Growers and companies are working to maintain biosecurity around poultry houses and prevent catastrophic disease outbreaks."
Chamblee, a management researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said in addition to producing more broilers, Mississippi is also increasing live weights.
"We are putting more meat on the market, and prices are continuing to be good because of consumer demand," Chamblee said. "High protein/low carbohydrate diets are having a favorable impact on both egg and chicken consumption.
"In March, producers had an historically high average for eggs of $1.23 per dozen," he said. "Eggs declined from the first quarter of 2004 to the second, but with an average of 80 cents per dozen wholesale between the first of April and the end of June, prices remained slightly higher than the same quarter in 2003."
Meat prices have experienced similar highs in 2004. Chamblee said although broiler prices have declined in recent months, prices are higher than they were a year ago.
According to a Aug. 24 report from Mississippi-based Sanderson Farms, Inc., one of the top six broiler production companies in the nation, market prices increased significantly compared to the third quarter of 2003. Boneless breast meat increased 44 percent to reach a record high of $2.56 per pound before dropping significantly. Other favorable prices from June through August included an almost 20 percent increase in whole chickens and 37 percent increases in bulk leg quarters.
Sanderson reports that company's third quarter net income more than doubled figures posted in the same period in 2003.
"We made more money in that quarter than in any year in our history except for one," said Mike Cockrell, treasurer and chief financial officer for Sanderson Farms. "2004 is going to be a record year for us."
The company reported a net income for the first nine months of the year of $86.4 million, compared to $33.6 million at that point in 2003.
While production and prices of broilers and eggs have been up this year, so has the cost of production. The same August report from Sanderson Farms stated the costs of corn and soybean meal, the primary feed ingredients, increased almost 16 percent and 46 percent, respectively.
Contact: Dr. Tim Chamblee, (662) 325-3374