Production costs, including rising animal feed prices, are the greatest challenge for today's turkey industry, said Rick Sietsema, partner and CFO of Michigan-based Sietsema Farms, in a recent testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

Feed accounts for 70% of the cost of raising a turkey, said Sietsema, and corn accounts for 70% of the feed mix. As corn and other feed prices have increased, so have overall production costs. Changes to the existing ethanol policy would help the industry recover those costs, according to Sietsema. “The turkey industry is looking for reform of the existing ethanol policy, a safety net that ensures corn prices and availability will be less volatile in the future,” he said.

Advertisement

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration proposed marketing rule, which was denied funding in the latest 2012 financial legislation, would have a further negative effect on the turkey industry, with an impact of more than $360 million a year, according to Sietsema.