The story of Chicken Little is a familiar one. She gets hit in the head with an acorn and then believes the sky is falling. She sends all of her neighbors into a panic because she tells them about the incident. And then, of course, the sky doesn’t actually fall. The tale is a warning against alarmism, and people who stoke fear.
I write a lot about how events can influence agriculture from the farm to your table. A change in California law will causes prices across the country to go up. EPA’s new pesticide regulations will decrease yields. China’s gameplaying will stunt the use of agricultural technology. Food marketing can hurt those with lower socioeconomic means. I always try to relate how farm issues will impact all of us.
But some people have accused me of being Chicken Little. California law changes won’t increase prices. EPA’s decisions have nothing to do with yields. China can’t influence world markets. And no one really pays attention to marketing labels. It’s all just alarmism!
So with that in mind, let’s talk about egg prices. Eggs are one of the cheapest and most nutritious sources of protein. But egg prices soared in December 2022 with some increases topping 60%. Although prices have started to ease, higher egg prices sparked a flurry of online memes, some grocery stores warning about shortages, and consumers declining to purchase their normal dozen.
The avian influenza outbreak is the cause. Since February 2022, it’s killed around 60 million birds. According to the American Egg Board, there’s roughly 6% fewer laying hens on U.S. farms than before the outbreak.
As I mentioned, we’re already seeing populations increase, production going up, and prices falling. Comparatively speaking, eggs are still an affordable source of protein. The sky isn’t falling, even if we see some economic adjustments in the short term.
But this is why I share about things impacting agriculture. Not all my concerns will materialize. Not everything will make people sit up and notice. Yet farmers’ worries about these issues is real. We’re not trying to stoke alarmism. We’re just trying to put things into perspective. This time it turned out to be warranted.