Sandy could affect poultry farmers, prices

Oct. 30, 2012 at 7:43 PM

STARKVILLE, Miss., Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Farmers in New England are battling damage and floods from Hurricane Sandy that could affect everything from poultry production to grocery prices, experts say.

The storm's aftermath could cause a domino effect of power outages, transportation disruptions and a potential lack of feed that could threaten poultry flocks, they said.

The affect could be particularly severe in Maryland and Delaware, states ranked in the top 15 in poultry meat production.

"Loss of power could affect the environment in chicken houses that could increase or decrease temperatures," Mary Beck, head of the poultry science department head at Mississippi State University, said.

"Most poultry operations, however, should have back-up generators," she said in a university release Tuesday. "Producers also are trying to make sure they have enough feed on hand to outlast the effects of the storm, in case hauling becomes an issue."

The problems could have a knock-on effect for consumers, she said.

"Having product on the shelves could affect pricing due to increased demand, and if the trucking industry is unable to make deliveries, there could be difficulties with supply."

The storm's impact on food pricing shouldn't be felt long term in urban areas where Sandy came ashore the experts said.

"Since these are not big agriculture production states such as Missouri or Kentucky, I see this as a short term consumption concern mainly involving restaurants and grocery stores," MSU Professor John Michael Riley said.

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