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Food Safety and Processing Perspective

Terrence O’Keefe, WATT’s content director, provides his perspective on everything from animal agriculture trends that impact our food chain to food-safety related issues affecting chicken and egg production. O’Keefe has covered the poultry industry as an editor for more than a decade and also brings his experience in plant management and poultry production to comment on today’s issues.
Egg Production

Popular press warning of impending egg shortage in California

December 17, 2014

With the compliance date for the hen housing aspects of California Proposition 2, and its related legislation, just a few weeks away, the potential for egg shortages and higher egg prices in California, and perhaps even the rest of the U.S., is now being told in numerous mainstream news outlets. What started as a news story has now been amplified by influential bloggers from coast-to-coast, someone is going to have to pay for the extra room that hens producing eggs for California will be given, and that someone will be egg consumers.

I don’t know how long the market for eggs in California or in the other 49 states will be in a state of upheaval, but it is just about certain that this market change isn’t going to happen without a hiccup of some kind. I’ve actually been a little nervous about the high number of hens in lay in the country in the months leading up to Proposition 2 implementation next month, so maybe the reduction in the size of the national layer flock won’t create a big shock to the market, I hope it doesn’t.

I am glad that news outlets are starting to cover the potential economic impacts of Proposition 2, even if it is at the 11th hour. There is one thing about this news coverage that always makes me shake my head though, when they make the “amazing” discovery that reduction in supply can cause prices to rise and that when prices have risen enough, supply will increase.

Sadly, basic economic literacy is not a requirement for high school graduation in the U.S. Laws and regulations have consequences and, in this case, they are going to force consumers in California to pay more money for eggs. Thankfully, I don’t live in California, but I have been on one of those switch out eggs for cereal diets for five months, maybe I should stock up on eggs before New Year’s Day just in case.

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