Even though it's a low-pathogenic strain of avian influenza — not the high-virulent pathogenic strain that everyone fears — that was found a hen flock in Arkansas, exports are on hold. The site of the discovery is a Tyson Foods flock, and the United States has voluntarily suspended poultry exports from Arkansas to Russia for 90 days. Japan has implemented a temporary ban.
For the Russian market the ban involves birds raised in the state and slaughtered on or after June 2. It includes all fresh or frozen poultry meat derived from those birds. About 33 percent of Russian chicken imports from the United States come from Arkansas, reports Meatingplace.com.
Last week, Tyson started eradicating the 15,000-head flock. Company officials remain confident that Russia will buy from other Tyson facilities that have authorization to export.
Market analysts also are confident that the avian influenza event should have few lasting effects on poultry exports. "The export stoppage doesn't necessarily change the momentum of the export business," says Jonathan Feeney, a Wachovia analyst.
For the sake of U.S. pork and beef producers it's important that poultry exports continue to flow out of the country, as an extended closure would pressure meat case supplies and prices. With the beef and pork markets already ailing, added supply pressures could extend or widen the losses, says Steve Meyer, ag economist with Paragon Economics.