Kentucky set to become the "Chicken state"

December 5, 2009

A recession-hit thoroughbred industry in Kentucky has put the poulty industry on track to overtake it in turnover, latest figures show.

Economists estimate 2009 poultry turnover at $US930 million, while horses are reckoned to bring $US750 million, a major decline on the $US1.08 billion in gross receipts last year.

Last year, the $US917.5 million in poultry turnover fell just short of horse receipts, which have topped Kentucky's agricultural returns for the last 10 years.

Agricultural economists with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture estimate Kentucky farm cash receipts across all areas of production to be $US4.29 billion this year, down about $US550 million from 2008's record high.

However, if global economic recovery proceeds as predicted, overall cash receipts for 2010 should remain at approximately the same level, or slightly higher.

Overall livestock receipts of $US2.46 billion show a decline of $US450 million from 2008. The reduction was driven by a decline in equine receipts, which come primarily from thoroughbred sales and stud fees.

"The thoroughbred industry, which has recently been the largest single part of farm gross receipts in Kentucky, has had a particularly difficult time," said Craig Infanger, extension professor in the university's Department of Agricultural Economics.

"The global recession has pushed auction sale prices down for two years, with prices being down 30 to 40 per cent in recent sales. When you combine the reduced income from thoroughbred sales with lower prices for grain, milk and hogs, the result is lower income on most Kentucky farms this year."