Bird flu leads to drop in exports from Maryland
Ill-informed consumers who have stopped eating chicken
because of bird flu fears are partly to blame for a significant drop in exports
from Maryland, US, according to a poultry industry
Poultry is the top product in Maryland agriculture, accounting for about 35
percent of the state's US$565 million in farm sales during 2005.
Bill Satterfield of Delmarva Poultry Industry
says that â€œforeign consumers thought
they needed to stop buying chicken in order to protect themselves and their
Even though the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian
has never been found in the US, importing countries are reluctant
to buy chicken from parts of the US that have reported low-pathogenic strains of
Exports account for about 15 percent of US chicken production. Although
poultry processors in the Delmarva region are not big participants in the export
market, they felt the impact of this decline, as well as a ripple effect in
other industries, such as feed.
About 80 percent of the corn and soybeans grown in Maryland goes to poultry
companies for use in chicken feed, according to state agriculture officials.
Another potential impact on feed prices for the poultry industry comes
from the increased use of corn in the production of ethanol. The US Department of Agriculture
has estimated that 20 percent of this year's corn harvest will be used in
Satterfield said that the poultry industry expereinces good and bad years,
but that people will continue to eat chicken.
"We produce a product that everyone needs - food," he said.
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