Published on 07/19/12

Midwestern drought will impact Georgia's poultry producers, corn farmers

By Merritt Melancon

The widespread drought that’s made national headlines this week will probably be a boon for some Georgia corn producers, but a costly burden for the state’s poultry and beef industries.

Georgia corn farmers, most of them in the southwest corner of state, have been struggling through drought conditions, but they’ve had it somewhat better than farmers in the Midwest, said Nathan Smith, an agricultural economist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Years of off and on drought in Georgia and high corn prices have spurred many corn producers to install irrigations systems, Smith said. Meaning even without rain, there will still be some corn, and that corn will go for a higher price than it did last year.

“So much of our corn is irrigated, we’re in somewhat of a better place than they are in the Midwest,” Smith said.

Corn is the third largest row crop in Georgia behind cotton and peanuts.

The flip side of higher corn prices is that the state’s poultry producers will pay higher prices for feed.

Georgia’s poultry and beef industries consume about six times as much corn as the state can produce, Smith said.

“We’re a player in corn, but what we produce in Georgia won’t affect the price nationally,” he said.

Georgia livestock farmers will have to pay the increased corn prices that farmers in the rest of the country are paying.

“As the supply goes down, and demand remains stable, the price of corn is going to go up,” said Kent Wolfe, director for the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. “It’s going to put upward pressure on food prices, on beef and poultry especially.”

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and previously served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.

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