Lindsey Cobb is worried about this fall.
She and her partner Rachel Lilly own In Theory Farm in Angier, North Carolina, a local producer of farm fresh eggs. The Avian Influenza virus that has killed nearly fifty million layer birds in fifteen states–consequently gutting the commercial egg industry and driving up prices–has stayed away from North Carolina thus far, but that could change with the seasonal migration of wild birds. And if it does, it could hit small producers as hard or harder than commercial ventures.
“If we see Avian Influenza come to North Carolina through the migratory birds, it is particularly devastating to farms that raise birds on pasture. Commercial farm buildings are completely enclosed, but pastured poultry producers have an open air type coop to deal with our hot weather, making it difficult or impossible to enclose the birds completely in the event of a crisis,” Lindsey said.
Locally, large grocery chains have been adjusting egg prices to market supply, in some cases increasing nearly a dollar over the last few months. Costs should stabilize, however, due to several factors:
–in summer, the demand for eggs is traditionally less than any other time of the year.
–the spread of AI is slowing with increasing summer temperatures in the Midwest
–beginning in June the USDA announced they will allow egg imports from the Netherlands to help ease the shortage.
For now, In Theory Farm has no plans to adjust their pricing. “We charge $4/dozen, and haven’t raised egg prices in over two years. While I disagree with how commercial layer hens are raised, I feel so much sympathy for the producers and birds. This will be a huge blow to the food industry. But, hopefully, the jump up to over $2/dozen for caged eggs will give consumers pause to realize it’s not much more to buy eggs from a local farmer from chickens raised humanely outdoors.”
[author] [author_info]Our many thanks go out to co-op owner and volunteer, Muirae Kenney for writing this week’s blog post.[/author_info] [/author]