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Animal rules raise food prices -- study

DANIEL LOOKER 03/01/2012 @ 11:00pm Business Editor

Regulations that increase the cost of production for poultry and livestock could add $16.8 billion to the cost of food for U.S. consumers, says a study released Friday by the United Soybean Board at the Commodity Classic in Nashville.

“Regulations without scientific basis can impact consumers across the country,” said USB chairwoman Vanessa Kummer, a soybean farmer from Colfax, North Dakota.

Food retailers also might choose to import less expensive eggs and meat. British food chains imported more pork after hog producers there had to give up tethers and close confiment stalls for breeding sows in1999.

“The retailers who had pressured the producers all along began to import more,” said Andre Williamson, vice president of Agralytica Consulting, which prepared the report, “Consumer and Food Safety Costs of Offshoring Animal Agriculture.”

Williamson said the study didn’t look at potential worldwide competitors in meat production, focusing mainly on Brazil and Mexico.

Williamson said that he expects more meat imports to ultimately come from Brazil, since Mexico is an importer of meat from the U.S.

Kummer said that after visiting poultry producers in Mexico, “I think Mexico would be very ready to start exporting eggs to the United States.”

The estimated increase in food costs is based on an assumption that regulations raise input costs by 25%.

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