Brian Earnest

Lead Economist, Animal Protein

Brian Earnest

Brian Earnest is lead economist for animal protein in CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange research division. He provides market and industry research for the poultry, pork and beef sectors. Mr. Earnest has more than 10 years of industry and consulting experience. Prior to joining CoBank, he was senior commodity analyst, poultry, with IHS Markit’s Food and Agricultural Commodities Economics group. Mr. Earnest provided forecasting and price risk strategies, client service, as well as project consulting in the poultry and egg space. He previously held various procurement and advisory roles with Topco Associates, LLC, a retail food industry cooperative.

Mr. Earnest holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from Eastern Illinois University.

Recent Reports

All Reports

As Inflation and Geopolitical Concerns Fade, Domestic Issues Come to the Fore

July 2024

The U.S. economy continues to perform reasonably well by most metrics, but the red-hot labor market of the last two years is finally cooling off.

Sticky Inflation Puts Fed on the Horns of a Dilemma

Sticky Inflation Puts Fed on the Horns of a Dilemma

April 2024

As we pointed out in our Year Ahead report in December, expectations that the Fed would cut rates six or seven times were completely irrational.


Rapid Expansion of Soybean Crush Capacity Risks Exceeding Growth of Renewable Diesel

March 2024

The push for renewable diesel is boosting demand for soybean oil as a feedstock.

The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the U.S. Rural Economy in 2024

The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the U.S. Rural Economy in 2024

December 2023

Despite multiple systemic shocks in recent years – COVID-19, trade conflict with China, the Russia-Ukraine war, surging inflation and interest rates – our economy has performed strongly.

Breeding Beef with Dairy Brings New Value to Marketplace

Breeding Beef with Dairy Brings New Value to Marketplace

August 2023

Abysmally dry weather conditions across the U.S. have led to extensive culling in the beef cow herd and will tighten beef supplies for years to come.


Pork Producer Optimism Dampened by Triple Threats

July 2023

Across the board in animal protein, producers have been dealing with input inflation. Pork producers in particular have been struggling, as hog values languished through mid-year and have not kept pace with costs.


The Slowdown-Resistant Economy

July 2023

Despite predictions for a slowdown, the U.S. economy remains the envy of the world. Jobs are plentiful, asset values are near all-time highs, and consumers are spending

Grilling season

Retailers to Appease Grillers with Value-Oriented Meat Features this Season

April 2023

In the years since COVID impacted consumers’ spending, the where, what and why of their decision-making process has been through a massive shift. For Americans, the product scarcity of the first and second quarters of 2020 proved paramount in what they put into their grocery carts. 

U.S. economy

Adapting to a Slowing Economy

April 2023

Effects from higher interest rates are permeating rural industries

Chicken Wings and Breast Meat Set to Offer Reprieve for Inflation-Weary Consumers

March 2023

Chicken Wings and Breast Meat Set to Offer Reprieve for Inflation-Weary Consumers

General Field

Inflation is Beginning to Loosen its Grip

January 2023

The war in Ukraine and inflation will remain the two biggest factors for commodity
markets in the first half of 2023. 

2023 Year Ahead

The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the U.S. Rural Economy in 2023

December 2022

The Russia-Ukraine war, surging inflation, and an energy crisis joined the COVID-19 pandemic this year as major events defining the operating environment for U.S. companies. We can expect to feel the aftershocks in 2023. 


Higher-Priced Turkeys on the Holiday Menu

November 2022

After grappling with staff shortages, plant closures, and supply issues, the turkey industry has been hit by yet another problem in 2022: the worst Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak in U.S. history.

Rural America

The Quarterly: Inflation Abundance, Commodity Shortage

October 2022

Despite ongoing impacts from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and lingering supply chain
effects from the pandemic, the U.S. economy remains incredibly resilient.


The HPAI Stakes are Higher This Time

September 2022

Seven years after the last outbreak, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza emerged again in 2022 in U.S. commercial poultry flocks. More than 40 million birds have been depopulated, disrupting supplies of eggs and turkey in particular.

Lunch Meat Sandwich

Rising Deli Meat Prices Pressure Back-to-School Budgets

August 2022

Now that the universal federal free lunch program of the pandemic era has ended, more parents may be packing their kids’ back-to-school lunches — and facing sticker shock in the deli aisle.


CoBank Quarterly: Clouds are Forming

July 2022

Fears of higher rates and weakening economic conditions
linger over the year’s second half.

Animal protein

Consumers to Take on Higher Prices in the Meat Case This Summer

April 2022

In 2021 the market for proteins witnessed a new type of consumer, one who is less sensitive to higher retail meat prices and more interested in

Pandemic, Higher Costs and Avian Flu Put Easter Egg Supplies at Risk

March 2022

U.S. egg producers have been hard-pressed in the past two years to align supplies with market demand. The flock typically expands ahead of demand for Easter and contracts during the summer months when interest wanes.

CoBank Quarterly General Field

The Quarterly: Omicron Upends Supply Chain Recovery

January 2022

Against all hope for a better start to 2022, omicron has crashed the New Year’s party. Renewed supply chain disruptions are being felt throughout the economy, causing empty shelves again and threatening to fan the flames of inflation.

2022 Year Ahead

The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the U.S. Rural Economy in 2022

December 2021

As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus is still in control of the economy.

Shipping containers

U.S. Animal Protein Needs Trade Negotiators Back at the Table

November 2021

For more than a decade, free trade has become decidedly less popular in the U.S. Unfortunately for U.S. meat exporters, the rest of the world continues to make headway on trade agreements that threaten to put U.S. producers at a disadvantage in global markets.

Rural America

The Quarterly: Adapting to Persistent Supply Disruptions

October 2021

Businesses of all sizes and across most industries are wrestling with perhaps the worst supply chain bottlenecks to date