Egg prices a topic that doesn’t belong in political ads

In recent political ads, a Kansas congressman overlooks the avian influenza outbreak and instead insinuates that the Biden Administration and the Democrats controlling Congress are to blame for high egg prices.

Roy Graber Headshot
Rep. Ron Estes, R-Kansas (Roy Graber)
Rep. Ron Estes, R-Kansas (Roy Graber)

I’ve followed politics closely enough over the years to know one thing, if a candidate up for re-election is a member of the opposite political party as the one in power, odds are they are going to find something that is bad, and blame them.

Even though I don’t live in the congressional district of Rep. Ron Estes, R-Kansas, I live close enough that his television and radio ads can be seen and heard in my home.

And Estes, of all things, is insinuating in his ads that the Biden Administration and the Democrats controlling Congress are to blame for high egg prices.

Mind you, the presidential administration always has some impact on the prices of agricultural commodities, these ads seem to overlook something that I would guess Estes already knows: the main reason egg prices are higher than normal is the supply is down because of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak.

Let’s take a look at what’s happened on that front so far in 2022. HPAI has affected 24 laying hen flocks, which lead to the depopulation of 34,422,800 million egg-laying hens. If you take a look at layer breeding stock and pullet flocks, that’s six more flocks and another 1,099,700 birds out of the supply chain because of HPAI.

I’ve checked numerous sources that examine the egg price trends, and while brief mentions are made of other factors, by far the largest common denominator is the lack of supply brought on by HPAI.

It was the same story with egg prices in 2015, the last time there was a major HPAI outbreak in America. Do voters have such short memories that they won’t remember that? Some, maybe, but not all.

What’s disappointing is Estes should already have at least some understanding of the egg industry. After all, he was a co-sponsor of the Protect Interstate Commerce Act (PICA), also known as the King Amendment, which if passed into law would have prevented states like California from imposing its cage-free egg production standards onto how eggs are produced in other states.

He even answered questions about PICA earlier this year at the Kansas Grain and Feed Association annual meeting. But, Estes, at that same event, probably spent as much time taking jabs at the opposing party as he did discussing topics that were actually germane to the feed and grain industry.

I understand and even respect that many people don’t share my intolerance for partisanship in politics, but I would hope most people do share my intolerance for people who try to make a political issue out of something that isn’t and approve of misleading political ads.

If Estes wants to attack the opposing party in his political ads, that’s his prerogative. But there are other, more justifiable topics he could cover to do so and do so credibly.

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