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Egg and Meat Prices Likely to Ease by End of Summer

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, which spread widely across the northern U.S. and pushed poultry and egg prices skyward, may be winding down, a USDA official said.

Some 40 million birds have been culled, about 6% of egg-producing chickens, 2.5% of turkeys and less than 1% of chickens raised for meat, The Associated Press  reported (June 16), helping to push egg prices up 32% and poultry prices up 17%.

Jada Thompson, an agricultural economist at the University of Arkansas, told the AP that egg and meat prices will likely ease by the end of summer as commercial operations get back up to speed.

Richard Coker, a spokesman for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service told the AP it was too early to say the HPAI outbreak, which hit the Upper Midwest especially hard, is over.

HPAI has been reported in wild birds in all 48 contiguous states and every Canadian province except Alberta. Commercial flocks have been hit in Colorado, the Dakotas, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. Backyard flocks have also been affected.

Iowa, the hardest-hit state, lost 13.4 million birds but state officials said no new cases have been reported since May 4, the AP reported.

In other news:

Sugar: The Cuban sugar cane harvest has been reduced by nearly half this season due to a shortage of herbicides and fertilizers, among other shortages, a government official told The Associated Press (June 15). Dionis Pérez, director of communication at Azcuba, which regulates the industry, said other contributing factors included a delay in starting up mills, a lack of oxygen needed to repair breakages, and a lack of fuel and spare tires.

Instead of the 911,000 tons that had been expected to be harvested, indications are just 482,000 tons were produced, little more than half of the 2020-21 season total and the smallest harvest in a century. Similar problems are expected to afflict next season’s production, pressuring global supplies.

Sugar production in the Philippines is also expected to take a hit, Bloomberg reported (June 17). The effects of a December typhoon and La Nina held production to 1.8 million metric tons as of mid-June.

Congress: The House Appropriations Committee took aim at hunger, rural communities and public health in its draft fiscal 2023 funding bill for agriculture, rural development, the Food and Drug Administration and related agencies. The measure provides $27.2 billion in funding, up 8% from 2022. Among the provisions is an effort to strengthen the safety of the baby formula market.