FarmPolicy

February 19, 2020

Livestock Producers Listening To “Consumer Votes”

Wall Street Journal writer Jacob Bunge reported earlier this week that, “Perdue Farms Inc. plans by June to eliminate antibiotics used in chicken it sells as nuggets and strips in supermarkets across the U.S., significantly escalating a nascent industry response to concerns about such use.

“Perdue expects the change to roughly triple the no-antibiotic portion of such precooked and seasoned products at U.S. supermarkets. Converting Perdue’s name-brand lines of chicken products will make it the largest grocery-store supplier of poultry raised without antibiotics, the Salisbury, Md. company said.”

The Journal article noted that, “A growing number of other chicken producers have also announced plans to curb antibiotic use, and restaurant chains including McDonald’s Corp., Chick-fil-A Inc. and Subway have said they would reduce or eliminate antibiotic use by their suppliers.

“‘Consumers have voted,’ said Eric Christianson, head of marketing for Perdue. ‘We’re embracing it, because it’s what the consumer wants.'”

Mr. Bunge pointed out that, “Tyson Foods Inc., the largest U.S. meatpacker by sales, last year announced plans to largely eliminate antibiotics used in humans from its chicken supplies, as did Foster Farms, another major producer. Tyson added that it will explore making similar changes in its hog, cattle and turkey operations. Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., the second-largest U.S. chicken processor, has projected that by 2019 one-quarter of its chicken would be raised without antibiotics.”

Keith Good

“Off-Farm” Income for U.S. Farm Households

Recall that earlier this week, USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson indicated at the Department’s annual outlook forum that, “[A] stronger U.S. economy provides improved off-farm income opportunities for a large majority of U.S. farm households. Since the latest recession ended in 2009, median farm household income has grown faster than U.S. median household income. Between 2010 and 2016, median farm household incomes are forecast to have increased by more than 50 percent. Most of that growth has come from improved off- farm income opportunities. Off-farm income and on-farm income for median farm households are all projected up in 2016. That is true for both smaller residential farm households as well as larger commercial farm households.”

Jim Puzzanghera, citing a Commerce Department report from yesterday, indicated in today’s Los Angeles Times that, “Incomes rose in January for the 10th-straight month and the 0.5% increase was the best since June. Personal income was up 0.3% in December.”

On the down side, today’s article added that, “The Commerce Department also reported Friday that the economy grew at a tepid 1% annual rate in the fourth quarter of last year.

“The figure was revised up from an initial estimate of just 0.7% growth. But the pace still was much slower than the 2% growth in the third quarter.”

Keith Good