Keep U.S. Commodities Competitive in World Markets, Poultry Industry Urges Congress

Federal farm policy must remain market-oriented to help American commodities remain competitive in the world market, a poultry industry spokesperson told Congress today.

“Market-based policies will help make American agriculture stronger by laying the foundation for rewarding efficiency, encouraging productivity, managing risks and allocating resources,” said Peggy Vining, vice president of international operations for Perdue Farms, Inc., of Salisbury, Maryland, speaking for the National Chicken Council and the National Turkey Federation. “To do otherwise for those of us in the global marketplace means our fundamental competitiveness is jeopardized.”

Speaking to a House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture hearing on the direction of commodities programs and policy, Ms. Vining said Congress should continue the direction laid out in the 1996 Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform Act (FAIR), which reformed basic farm law and moved it to a market orientation.

The poultry industry is a major purchaser of corn, soybean meal and other commodities that are affected by federal support programs. Approximately 18 percent of chicken production, and 9 percent of turkey production, is exported.

“Basic to being competitive in the world poultry market is the ability of U.S. poultry producers to purchase corn, soybean meal and other feed ingredients at costs that are not artificially above world levels,” Ms. Vining said. She noted that world consumption of poultry outside the United States has increased 500 percent over the past 30 years while consumption in the U.S. has increased 300 percent.

“Potential world consumption of poultry is truly remarkable,” Ms. Vining said. “The potential for U.S. producers to supply a part of the increase in global poultry demand is tremendous if given the competitive opportunity to do so.”

In addition to continuing the market-oriented policies of the 1996 Farm Bill, Ms. Vining recommended that Congress increase funding of export promotion programs to match the efforts of other major agricultural exporters. She also recommended Congress provide financial support to poultry and livestock producers struggling to comply with costly environmental regulations.

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