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Poultry group not worried about Ukrainian crisis
Jim Sumner
Jim Sumner

Tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine aren’t particularly worrisome for the president of the Georgia-based USA Poultry & Egg Export Council.

James H. Sumner of the Stone Mountain-based council said he believes the ongoing crisis shouldn’t hurt U.S. exports to that part of the world.

Ukraine is not currently a major market, and the U.S. is one of the few available suppliers to Russia, he said.

Ukraine’s “poultry production has increased significantly over recent years and they are looking at exporting their poultry production into Europe, especially since now Ukraine’s future exports to Russia are in question,” Sumner said.

Russia, meanwhile, likely will reduce “imports from the Ukraine,” he added.

A greater concern could be the exchange rate between the dollar and the Russian ruble that has “recently fluctuated,” Sumner said.

“Of course, it’s impossible to know what could happen in the future,” he said of the crisis.

Poultry is big business in Georgia, especially Hall County and Northeast Georgia.

In a 2011 report, some 23,000 people either work directly in the industry or have jobs that benefit poultry in the 9th Congressional District, which includes Hall, according to the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association.

The economic impact was estimated at $5.7 billion.

Poultry production is also increasing in Russia.

Georgia broiler exports to Russia have dropped to 43,697 metric tons in 2013 from 133,027 tons in 2008, according to USA Poultry & Egg Export Council data. The state’s broiler exports to Ukraine have dropped to 1,011 metric tons in 2013 from 26,844 tons in 2008.

But that hasn’t caused a problem for U.S. exports, “as (the) product has found a home in other countries,” council spokesman Toby Moore said.

Meanwhile, relations between the U.S. and Russia have intensified in recent weeks, especially as the Crimean Peninsula, formerly of Ukraine, has been annexed into Russia.

And with no sign of Russia abandoning the region, President Barack Obama has warned Russian President Vladimir Putin the international community is prepared to impose punishing sanctions against his country’s economy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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