Poultry vs. Beef

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Even though the chicken industry could benefit from the nation's first case of mad cow disease, experts said Wednesday that any shift in consumers' meat-buying habits would be short-lived.

Georgia's top agriculture official predicted the price of beef will recover when the public realizes that the supply is safe.

On Wednesday, some poultry outlets seemed to be getting an immediate boost from news that a cow in Washington state showed up with the degenerative brain disease.

Restaurants specializing in chicken said they expect to benefit from those declines.

Atlanta-based Chick-Fil-A spokesman Don Perry said the beef scare could drive up people's appetite for chicken.

Meanwhile, poultry retained its top spot in Mississippi agriculture in 2003.

Good prices this year combined with a strong national appetite for chicken helped Mississippi's poultry industry gain nearly 15 percent in value since 2002.

Its estimated value is $1.6 billion, according to agricultural economists with Mississippi State University.

Tim Chamblee, management researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station at MSU, said the industry did well because prices improved and stayed up.

Chamblee said consumers kept up consumption even after the typical post-Labor Day dip. He said Mississippi also strengthened its exports and recovered the Russian market.