Latest USDA report highlights impact on turkey producers of bird flu hit

By Chloe Ryan

- Last updated on GMT

The heaviest incidents of the virus have been in turkeys and table egg layers
The heaviest incidents of the virus have been in turkeys and table egg layers

Related tags Cattle Meat Livestock Beef Pork Poultry

Turkey producers in the USA are bearing the brunt of multiple outbreaks of avian influenza (HPAI) currently infecting the country, while broiler producers have largely been sheltered from the effects, according to June’s livestock, dairy and poultry outlook, published this week by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Currently there are confirmed outbreaks in 15 states, with the heaviest incidents of the virus in turkeys and table egg layers in midwestern states, particularly Iowa and Minnesota. The turkey industry has seen AI impact both its production and exports. Both turkey production and export estimates have been revised reflecting the number of turkeys that have been culled and the number of full and partial trade restrictions than have been put in place.  

For the broiler industry the primary impacts of the AI outbreaks have been on the export sector, with numerous countries enacting full or partial bans on poultry products from the US. This has increased the volume of broiler products on the domestic market, driving down prices.

In beef, the combination of high US beef prices, tight domestic availability and a relatively strong US dollar, will continue to constrain US beef export growth. Exports in April were down 3.6% year-on-year to 90,700 tonnes. However, the April trade data did show some signs of improved demand for US beef in international markets such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. The data also showed increased beef shipments to smaller global markets such as the Netherlands, Philippines, Dominican Republic, and Italy.  With less beef available for export this year due to constrained domestic availability, annual beef exports for 2015 are projected to decline approximately 4% from 2014 exports.

Heavy rains in the southern states have improved pasture conditions, and it is expected cattle producers will therefore cull fewer cows until the autumn to take advantage of the opportunity to feed their cattle up through the summer. This is likely to have implications for supplies of processing beef and ground beef production through summer 2015.  First-half 2015 cow slaughter could be down 6% over first-half 2014, according to the USDA.

In pork, the US industry is continuing to recover from Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PEDv), and second-quarter production is expected to be 2.7 million tonnes, almost 7% up on a year ago. Prices are therefore being driven down, and second-quarter hog prices are expected be 36% below the second quarter of 2014. April pork exports were year-over-year higher for the first time since June 2014, as low US prices offset some of the effects of high US dollar exchange rates.

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