Meat & Livestock News

Baltimore Bridge Collapse Affects US Agriculture and Poultry Trade

TL’DR: The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore has minimal impact on US agriculture trade, with slight concerns for poultry exports and equipment shipments during the spring planting season.

Baltimore, MD — The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, caused by a container ship accident on March 26, has had limited impact on the US agriculture trade, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) reports. Although the bridge’s fall halted all vessel movement at the port, the repercussions for national agriculture trade appear minimal.

The Port of Baltimore, crucial for over 37 million short tons of cargo in 2021, plays a minor role in the nation’s agri-trade, handling just 0.3% of US agricultural exports and 2.1% of imports. Last year, it exported 605,000 tonnes of agricultural goods, with soybeans making up the majority.

Significantly, poultry businesses like Mountaire Farms and Perdue Farms, located near the port, might face challenges. Mountaire remarked, “Our export operations will be impacted,” underscoring the urgency to adjust their global distribution strategies.

Perdue Farms echoed this sentiment, indicating their robust supply chain would help mitigate impacts on their operations around Maryland.

Additionally, the port is a primary route for shipping farm and construction machinery, surpassing even automobiles since 2022. The AFBF highlighted concerns over potential delays in delivering such essential equipment, especially with the spring planting season on the horizon.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers has acknowledged the port’s vital role in their sector but believes it’s too early to gauge the full effects of the incident.

On the import side, significant quantities of agricultural products, including a quarter of all US-imported raw sugar, pass through Baltimore, highlighting the port’s strategic importance.

Immediate challenges loom for related industries, such as sugar refineries, which assure a six to eight-week stockpile of raw sugar. Yet, the AFBF warns of possible long-term supply chain disruptions, potentially increasing prices and logistical issues for farmers awaiting inputs.

This event underscores the interconnected nature of global trade and local economies, highlighting the need for resilient supply chains in the face of unexpected infrastructural damages.