USDA chief economist shares crystal ball with chicken processors

Meatingplace, By Rita Jane Gabbett on 11/6/2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — USDA’s chief economist expects U.S. agricultural exports to rebound in 2017 and remain strong in 2018.

Speaking the National Chicken Council gathered here last week, Robert Johansson, who is also acting deputy under secretary for farm production and conservation, said U.S. poultry producer could expect corn used for feed to remain cheap as farmers are in the midst of harvesting what would likely be the second largest crop on record.

He also predicted higher beef, pork and broiler exports as the global middle class is expected to expand dramatically, led by China and Indonesia. He noted that consumers in lower income countries spend a greater portion of any additional income on food. Asia Pacific countries in general, said Johansson, hold the most U.S. export growth potential.

In terms of general economic growth, he noted China’s growth has steadied at just below 7 percent while Brazil continues to recover from recession and India remains a bright spot of expanding growth.

As the dollar begins to fall from its strength against customer currencies, this should also aid U.S. exports, he said, though the dollar continues to rise against the Mexican peso, a major U.S. meat importer.

Even as rising U.S. meat production has pressured prices, Johansson said demand remains strong and there are continued opportunities for growth.