Originally published July 7 2015
Bird flu epidemic expected to raise poultry costs, exacerbating economic burden of food inflation
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Millions of chickens and turkeys in a number of states have been stricken by the latest bird flu outbreak, decimating entire flocks in what analysts believe will lead to spiking poultry prices in the coming months.
In the upper Midwest, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota are the latest states to have been affected by the bird flu outbreak. By the time Iowa Governor Terry Branstad declared a state of emergency there just a few days ago, 16 million egg-laying chickens had tested positive for the virus; Iowa is the country's top egg-producing state. The outbreak is so bad in Wisconsin that Governor Scott Walker has activated National Guard troops to help authorities dispose of the dead poultry.
As further reported by RT.com:
Two strains of avian influenza have been detected in farms across the US since it was first discovered in December. The H5N2 strain is in Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. The H5N8 strain has been identified in California and in Idaho. The outbreak could lead to extermination of up to 21 million chickens and turkeys nationwide.
As a result of the flu, scores of countries have imposed import bans on U.S. poultry. In sum, the loss of millions of birds and eggs along with the curbs on global poultry sales are likely to lead to skyrocketing poultry prices in the coming months, leading to even more food inflation as tens of millions of Americans continue to struggle economically.
Prices will continue to go up, not downPrices for ground beef, for example, are already at record highs, as are prices for beef in general. As The Wall Street Journal reported a year ago:
The consumer price of ground beef in May rose 10.4% from a year earlier while pork chop prices climbed 12.7%. The price of fresh fruit rose 7.3% and oranges 17.1%. But prices for cereals and bakery products were up just 0.1% and vegetable prices inched up only 0.5%. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts overall food prices will increase 2.5% to 3.5% this year after rising 1.4% in 2013, as measured by the Labor Department's consumer-price index. In a typical supermarket, shoppers are seeing higher prices around the store's periphery, in the produce section and at the meat counter.
Food prices -- like gasoline and energy prices -- are left out of government inflation figures because they are deemed "volatile." However, leaving out food and energy prices also skews the country's inflation data, as reflected in the Consumer Price Index, making it appear far less of a problem than it really is.
Not counting food prices as inflationThe government's analysts are correct in saying that food and energy prices tend to fluctuate, but the general trend has been for the prices of these commodities to rise rather than fall. We are seeing a downward trend in prices for gasoline and other fuels at the moment, but few analysts expect that trend to continue forever.
One of the best ways to fight food inflation, however, is to produce more of your own. Not only is that a healthier option -- organic is always better -- but producing some or all of your own food is a great solution to the problem of rising costs and a dearth of non-GMO food in the average American diet.
Food prices are not likely to go down much, if at all, in the near future. Disasters like the current bird flu outbreak, coupled with smaller herds on fewer farms, will lead to food unavailability and insecurity in the future.
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