The poultry industry in Georgia has grown steadily since the 1940s.

Like all of agriculture, poultry has had its share of ups and downs. Right now, it’s facing a perfect storm created by high corn prices, escalated fuel prices and a down economy.

Georgia produces 1.4 billion birds and 3 billion eggs annually, giving poultry an economic impact of more than $13 billion a year on the state of Georgia.

The industry also accounts for more than 100,000 jobs.

“If Georgia were a country, we’d be the fifth largest producer in the world,” said Mike Lacy, University of Georgia poultry scientist and head of the poultry science department in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Most of the cost of producing poultry meat and eggs is in the feed. In July 2010, corn cost about $3.50 per bushel. By June 2011, corn had jumped to $8 a bushel.

Fuel costs have increased almost as fast as feed prices. And a tough economy worldwide has kept demand for meat and eggs at a lower level than experts predicted.

As a result, poultry producers have not been able to raise prices sufficiently to balance out higher feed and fuel prices.