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June 01, 2012   Email to Friend 

America’s Food Costs Could Rise If Government Regulations Increase
Debra Davis

Pickens County farmer Annie Dee serves on the United Soybean Board, which funded the survey.
If government regulations on the U.S. poultry and livestock sectors increase, consumers will pay more for their food, a national survey shows. In fact, consumers could pay up to $16.8 billion more annually for meat, milk and eggs if regulations raise input costs for farmers by 25 percent.

The Consumer and Food Safety Costs of Offshoring Animal Agriculture, a recent soybean-checkoff-funded study, evaluated current U.S. supply and demand for poultry and livestock products and the impact of regulations on retail price.

“Animal agriculture is the No. 1 customer of U.S. soybean farmers,” said Pickens County soybean farmer Annie Dee, who serves on the United Soybean Board (USB). “The soybean checkoff-funded research showed increased restrictions on the poultry and livestock industries could increase production costs 10-to-25 percent. Additional restrictions on animal care and confinements could cost the United States $1.1 billion in exports and could cause up to 9,000 American jobs to be lost.”

For example, requiring cage-free housing for laying hens would increase the cost of eggs from $1.68 to $2.10 per dozen, a total cost of $2.66 billion per year to U.S. consumers, the survey reported.

Dee pointed to Burger King’s recent announcement that said after 2017 it would no longer purchase eggs from caged chickens or pork from hogs raised in pens. This is a marketing strategy aimed at pleasing animal extremists, not average Americans, she said. “This is a marketing strategy that could have unintended consequences,” Dee said of the fast-food giant’s plans. “It is not necessarily what consumers are asking for, and it will certainly drive up the price of all their meals.”

Americans have the most abundant, nutritious and affordable food choices in the world, and those rely heavily on protein from animals.

“As farmers, we continue to work hard on improvements because we share consumers’ concerns for our country’s land and resources and the quality of America’s food,” Dee said. “The poultry and livestock sectors not only support the U.S. export market but also make our economy stronger here at home by creating jobs and tax revenue.”

The most recent statistics compiled by the soybean checkoff show the poultry and livestock sectors support 1.8 million jobs and generate more than $283 billion for the U.S. economy.


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