California egg production falling
California's egg production has fallen to its lowest level in 50 years.
"The state has grown and grown, and urban encroachment is something that
significantly impacts any farmer," said poultry expert Doug Kuney with the
University of California. "As the farmer fights off development, development
fights off animal agriculture and all that comes with it."
Was once No.1
According to the USDA, California was once the No.1 producer in the US.
However, the number of chickens fell to 19.2 million in 2005, down from almost
40 million birds in the 1970s, when egg production reached highs of over 8.5
billion eggs. The state failed to reach the 5 billion egg mark in 2006 for the
first time since 1959.
The amount California producers were paid for eggs has also dropped 37%
from 2004 to $182 million in 2005 - the lowest value since 1962, according to
the Department of Food and Agriculture.
Animal welfare adds to high costs
Consumers concerns are also a major issue. Burger King pledged to begin
buying eggs from suppliers that do not keep their animals in cages. Organic
products have become a booming business.
The high costs of being in the egg business is also discouraging smaller
farms. The increased rules regarding animal welfare have added to high costs,
which a small farm cannot sustain.
Kuney predicts egg production in California will fall into the hands of
only a few big companies, as smaller farms slowly disappear.
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