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2017 “Wish-List” for the Poultry Industry

  

Dec 30, 2016

    

Each year CHICK-CITE and EGG-CITE provides a list of outcomes which would benefit the industry. 

As we approach the inauguration of a new and radically different Administration there is greater uncertainty and hence a more concerned approach as to whether we will see beneficial changes. 

The following is a short “wish-list”:

  

  • A year free of avian influenza.  Europe and Asia are in the throes of H5N8 and H5N6 avian influenza strains respectively.  It is hoped that similar recombinant strains will not be introduced into the U.S. and also that our enhanced biosecurity measures will be effective in reducing potential contact between commercial flocks and migratory waterfowl which serve as reservoirs of avian influenza.
  • An experienced and unbiased Secretary of Agriculture.  As of December 22nd, President-elect Trump has not nominated a Secretary of Agriculture.  It is hoped that the incumbent will have real-world farming experience and will be inclined towards commercial-scale and intensive crop and livestock production. We need an incumbent who will disavow the bias towards organic production and so called “small family farms” which are unprofitable, unsustainable and have diverted efforts and funds from the main function of producing food for the U.S. and export. GIPSA should be purged of socialists.
  • An upswing in our economy.  A recent modest increase in the Federal funds rate suggests that our economy is improving.  Pre-election rhetoric and the appointment of business-oriented cabinet and sub-cabinet members promoting free-enterprise economics argues for greater spending power among consumers. This will reverse the trend in declining same-store sales in the restaurant industry and food service creating more demand for poultry and eggs. What helps Kroger and McDonald’s benefits our industries.
  • Tax reform.  As with the previous item, eliminating loopholes, lowering the corporate tax rate and allowing repatriation of foreign earnings will ultimately increase demand for eggs and poultry meat, offsetting pressure on exports due to the high value of the U.S. Dollar.
  • Reining in the EPA.  Proposed regulations such as the Waters of the United States and other restrictive measures which have minimal benefit but add to the cost of production must be curbed.  The appointment of Oklahoma Attorney-General Scott Pruitt to head the EPA will in all probability lead to a wholesale departure of environmental activists philosophically opposed to intensive livestock production.
  • Reduction in the Renewable Fuels Standard.  Despite pre-election support for the Midwest farm states which contributed to the success of President-elect Trump, his appointments to the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency and input from Carl Icahn suggest a bias towards fossil fuels to the detriment of ethanol production.  Should the corn-based component of the RFS be trimmed, corn prices will decline, benefiting the livestock industry.  The interplay between the “drillers” and the “grower-ethanol refiners” will be an interesting match during 2017.
  • Defanging the Department of Labor and OSHA. In 2016 OSHA initiated a series of punitive inspections directed towards poultry plants in the Southeast.  This action was taken despite statistical evidence of a decline in illnesses and injuries in broiler processing facilities.  Concurrently the Department of Labor has brought suit against poultry companies alleging discrimination in hiring.  It is hoped that the appointment of Andrew Puzder as Secretary of the Department of Labor will bring an end to determinations and actions such as the extended employer principle which are prejudicial to our industry.
  • Resolution of the immigration dilemma.  Agriculture cannot function effectively without guest laborers from our southern neighbor.  Although the Department of Homeland Security has resolved many issues relating to employing documented aliens, resolution of the unsatisfactory and vacillating policy on immigration should be resolved.
  • Improved technical education.  Community colleges should intensify their efforts to produce competent artisans to bridge the gap between workers and management.  With increasing automation, computerization and technology, the knowledge and skills of workers must be advanced to improve efficiency and productivity.

 

EGG-CITE wishes subscribers and sponsors a prosperous 2017 in a pro-agriculture and rational business environment.