Poultry Industry Doing Well, for Now

Poultry Industry Shines, Like a Canary in a Coal Mine

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

Bill Mattos, president of the California Poultry Federation, based in Modesto, reported the state’s poultry industry is doing well despite new regulations and wage increases. “First of all,” he explained, “it looks like chicken has taken over as the [category of] highest meat consumption now in the United States. It’s getting more and more popular, so that’s good,” Mattos noted.

“Also, the best thing is the industry seems to be weathering the Highly Pathogenic Avian Flu (HPAI) A (H5N1) storm,” he continued. “In California, we’re doing our due diligence with biosecurity. We don’t have any Avian Influenza. We’ll knock on wood for that.”

California Poultry Federation logo“The industry is also enjoying lower feed costs. That’s 60% of our cost, so that’s good news,” he added.

And, poultry industry employees have job security. “It doesn’t look like there will be fewer employees in the industry over the next few years, and we’d like to have more,” he said.

Notwithstanding the good news, challenges loom on the near horizon. “The Air Quality and Water Quality Control Boards are regulating a lot of different industries,” Mattos observed. “They’re starting to look at the poultry industry now that they have completed the dairy rules. We’re very concerned about those issues, so we are trying to work with the boards to explain to them what we do and how our business runs,” noted Mattos.

The updated minimum wage requirement may hurt the California poultry industry, another big concern of Mattos. “We supply half the chicken consumed in California. The other half comes from out of state. Without the same minimum wage requirements, we’re going to be at a disadvantage. We’re looking into the different possibilities—what we can do—to offset that.”

“You will be seeing some new things coming out from the poultry industry as we look at the ramifications of the new minimum wage,” explained Mattos. “We can’t compete with that. They are going to be taking a lot more percentage away from us, which may cost us some jobs if we don’t work this out.”

“With the minimum wage hike, California lawmakers are trying to appease workers. But it really affects businesses. Ours happen to be mostly in the Central Valley, which is the hardest-pressed area for unemployment. It isn’t a good place to have to follow wage requirements like you’re seeing in San Francisco and Los Angeles. It frankly makes no sense in the Central Valley,” said Mattos.

Outlook on California Poultry

Bill Mattos: Outlook for California Poultry Industry

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

California’s poultry industry has a positive outlook for the coming year despite the recent outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian influenza plaguing the rest of the nation’s poultry industry. Bill Mattos, president of the California Poultry Federation, said the coming year will see chicken overtaking beef.

“We’re learning from a lot of economists that we are going to have an exciting year for poultry next year and into the future,” Mattos said. “It looks like chicken is taking over beef next year, and all of poultry will be ahead of the red meats. We love our beef and pork friends, but we’re passing them. It looks like the healthfulness of chicken and the capacity to grow locally—everything in California—is looking good for the poultry industry. And we’re excited. We think the chicken and turkey industries will have a good year coming up.”

And although the price of corn is still higher in California versus nationally, Mattos said this industry is still doing well. “We still pay about a dollar or more a bushel for corn in California. But prices are outstanding compared to what they were two or three years ago, so our companies are making some money.”

With the flyways, or bird migration, coming back this fall, Mattos said the California poultry industry is prepared with increased biosecurity on their farms and ranches to prevent an avian influenza outbreak. Mattos said, “It’s very important that we make sure our companies are locking down their facilities—keeping visitors off and maintaining a biosecurity that’s first in the nation—because any type of bird flu that could invade here and spread would devastate the marketplace.”

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California Poultry Federation

California Turkey Industry Enjoys Excellent Year

California Turkey Producers and Processors Offer Wide Variety to Consumers and Benefit From Steady High Prices

For the last two weeks, grocery store meat departments have been catering to consumers looking for the perfect turkey.

According to Bill Mattos, President of the Modesto-based California Poultry Federation, it has been a great year for California turkey producers:

“This is probably one of the best years for turkey in many, many years for the farmer and the processor. The consumer still gets a bargain every Thanksgiving even though prices this year are higher [as] there are less turkeys in the nation. California fresh turkey was sold out from our processors two weeks before Thanksgiving. So, we were urging everyone who wanted California fresh turkey to get their order in early, and they may still be able to do that. The California farmer is offering everything from fresh and natural to organic to free range; you can find just about everything in your supermarket. It will be a very good year for turkey, and it will be a good year for chickens coming up as well. We look forward to 2015 because we think it will be even better than 2014.”

Mattos said that the turkey industry was careful to avoid oversupply, “The turkey industry didn’t grow crazy, and prices stayed at a pretty good level. They didn’t all start growing like farmers do sometimes as they all get into the business when prices are good. Turkey farmers held back and kept their supply even; however,  with very high beef, pork and other meat prices at this time of year, people look at turkey and even chicken as a bargain.”

As we all sit around the table with friends and family this Thanksgiving, we can be thankful for the California turkey producers and processors, as well as the farmers and farm workers who provide so much for the seasonal meals.