Turkey Supply Worries Overblown, But Bird Flu Effects Still Lasting

June 5, 2015 02:11 PM
Turkey Supply Worries Overblown, But Bird Flu Effects Still Lasting

The worst outbreak of avian influenza in the U.S. may be slowing, but the scope of the crisis—more than 46 million birds lost since December—has many worried about the ongoing impact on consumers, farmers, and agricultural exports.

“As the infection rate slows, the economic implications could be only beginning,” write John Newton and co-author Todd Kuethe in the June 5, 2015, issue of farmdocDaily.

Those numbers could be staggering. Researchers in May estimated bird flu-related losses at nearly $1 billion in May, millions of depopulated birds ago. Higher prices for eggs are expected to cost consumers an additional $8 billion. Foreign countries have banned U.S. poultry exports, which are off 7% percent compared to last year, according to Newton and Keuthe.

“Internationally, as many as 75 countries have a partial or full export ban on U.S. produced poultry,” they write. “The duration of the export bans are unknown at this point, but it is reasonable to expect export partners to reevaluate the safety of U.S. produced poultry before lifting the ban. As a result, trade bans on U.S. produced poultry could have long-lasting economic implications not yet observable in USDA trade data.”

How long-lasting? Newton and Keuthe say the economic effects of avian influenza could last through 2015 and into 2016.

The farmdocDaily researchers did see one bright spot in their analysis: the supply of turkeys late in 2015. “Much has been made of a potential supply disruption impacting the availability of turkeys during the Thanksgiving holiday,” they write. “At this point in time data does not point toward a high likelihood of a turkey shortage during Thanksgiving 2015.”

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