Paying more for food may not be out of the question for consumers if regulations on the U.S. poultry and livestock sectors increase. In fact, consumers could pay up to $16.8 billion more annually for meat, milk and eggs if regulations are imposed on U.S. poultry and livestock farmers that raise input costs by 25 percent.
The Consumer and Food Safety Costs of Offshoring Animal Agriculture, a recent soy-checkoff-funded study, evaluated current U.S. supply and demand for poultry and livestock products and the impact of regulations on retail price. The study indicates that potential regulations could raise consumer costs. For example, requiring cage-free housing for laying hens would increase the cost of eggs from $1.68 to $2.10 per dozen, a total cost of $2.66 billion per year to U.S. consumers.
"This could have a big impact on everyone – it's not just that dozen eggs you and I buy at the grocery store," explains Vanessa Kummer, a soybean farmer from Colfax, N.D., and chair of the United Soybean Board (USB). "As Americans, we have abundant, nutritious and affordable food choices that rely heavily on protein from animals, and, as farmers, we continue to work hard on improvements because we share consumers' concerns for our country's land and resources, and the quality of America's food."
The report cites increased regulations that could drive up costs of production meat, milk and eggs by anywhere from 10 percent to 25 percent. It shows that a 25 percent increase in costs to animal agriculture would reduce U.S. exports by $1.1 billion and cause nearly 9,000 Americans to lose their jobs.
"U.S. agriculture leads the world as a global producer and exporter of animal products, and we need that to continue," adds Kummer. "The poultry and livestock sectors not only support the U.S. export market, but also make our economy stronger here at home by creating jobs and tax revenue."
The most recent statistics compiled by the soy checkoff show the poultry and livestock sectors support 1.8 million jobs and generate more than $283 billion for the U.S. economy.