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The Great Chicken Bailout of 2011

The United States is stepping in to help bail out another American industry -- chicken farmers and meat processors. The nation's chicken industry is having a difficult year. Chicken producers are struggling with higher costs of running their business at the same time that consumers are buying less meat. This has created a glut of chicken products in the market. Total chicken production in the first half of 2011 rose 4% compared to the same period a year ago, while demand for chicken has cooled, according to the National Chicken Council. Consequently, retail prices for chicken product have dipped. The Department of Agriculture, keenly aware of these issues, announced Monday that it will make a special purchase of up to $40 million of chicken products, which the government will then donate to federal food assistance programs such as soup kitchens and its national Feeding America programs. The USDA steps in occasionally to buy up food products that are in surplus supply in the market. By doing this, it helps shrink the glut of product, raise retail prices and support producers that are struggling to cover their cost of production. With Monday's chicken order, the USDA said it hoped the move would also provide support to the broiler industry and many small poultry [producers]. Broilers are chickens grown for meat as opposed to egg laying.

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