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Poultry Industry Earns Record-Breaking Value
By Bethany Waldrop Keiper
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Although overall estimated value of farm production is down in Mississippi for 1995, the poultry industry has scored another record-breaking year.
Agricultural economists at Mississippi State University predict the industry's value is $1.09 billion for 1995, up $50 million from 1994.
Poultry and eggs' rise in value is the highest in the state, even though it comes in second behind forestry's estimated farm value of $1.1 billion.
Dr. Tom Smith, extension poultry science specialist at MSU, said the history of the industry shows increases over the past 30 years.
For 1995, broiler production in Mississippi is estimated at 632 million, about a 5 percent increase from last year.
"This totals up to 20 birds per second processed in Mississippi for 1995 -- that's 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," Smith said.
Production is not the only increase for the industry in 1995.
"It seems like all areas of the industry have expanded each year, and 1995 is no exception," Smith said. "There have been some increases in prices, income to growers, processing and exports."
Many of the poultry exports are products that are not in high demand in the United States.
"There are a lot of unusual products desired in other areas of the world," Smith said. "In the Far East, chicken paws are very popular -- the chicken feet are used for making broth, or fried and eaten as a delicacy."
Dark meat, which has decreased in popularity in the United States, has found high demand in the Orient.
Further processing and value added products also contribute to the economic impact the industry has on the state, an impact the farm value figures do not reflect, Smith said.
Poultry has a high total linkage multiplier, which reflects a commodity's economic contribution to the state -- the effect it has on local economies and jobs.
"The industry has one of the highest values in the state, second only to catfish," Smith said. "Since poultry is grown, processed and sold in Mississippi, the money it takes to complete these processes stays in the state."
The poultry industry is expected to keep expanding in Mississippi for 1996.
"We're expecting more growers and more houses for next year," Smith said. "The production side of the business is anticipated to spread out of the traditional areas in the south-central part of the state and into the northeastern part of the state."
The demand for poultry products keeps rising, as new, further processed products deliver both nutrients and convenience.
Mississippi is fifth in the nation in poultry production, and about 17th in egg production. Of the total estimated value of farm production for poultry and eggs, broilers represent about 90 percent of the value, while eggs represent 10 percent.
Smith stressed the impact the industry has had on the state, particularly in rural areas.
"Through the years, there have been good and bad years in the poultry industry's economy, but most of those have been stable for growers," Smith said. "Because of its vertical integration and controllable growing conditions, the industry is more insulated than many others from market and environmental disasters."