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May 10, 2016

Rapid broiler growth is sustainable and not inhumane

I generally enjoy the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of agriculture and the poultry industry, but I was unpleasantly surprised by some things written in a recent article on the expanding market for “slow-growing” broilers. The second paragraph displays a lack of understanding of economics that surprised me:

“A typical commercial chicken has been bred to grow to twice the size of birds from 50 years ago, in around half the time. The faster pace has meant big savings and fatter profits for the meatpackers that raise them.” The author misstates the two real beneficiaries of improved bird performance: the consumer of chicken meat and society at large. Because of competition among genetics companies and among poultry companies, profits over time don’t get “fatter;” they stay within acceptable ranges required to attract and retain capital investment. Read More

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