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American Egg Time Capsule

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Touch the Soil News #819 (Feature photo – Grading Eggs in 1942 in the U.S. – Library of Congress)

Before we talk about the past, the U.S. egg industry has been experiencing challenges over the past few years. In 2016, the nation’s egg producers were just coming off one of the world most devastating avian bird flu epidemics – over 50 million birds had to be destroyed and egg production dipped vicariously. In 2017, as egg production was ramping back up, modest oversupplies send prices to some of the lowest levels – far below the cost of production. What the future holds for eggs and egg producers is uncertain.

 

In 1940, on the eve of America’s greatest challenge – WWII – the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that the nation’s farmers produced 39 billion eggs. The price of a dozen eggs was 17.9 cents.

In 1950, the USDA reported that the nation’s farmers produced 56.6 billion eggs. The price of a dozen eggs was 45.2 cents.

In 1960, the USDA reported that the nation’s farmers produced 61.4 billion eggs. The price of a dozen eggs was 36 cents.

In 1970, the USDA reported that the nation’s farmers produced 69.1 billion eggs. The price of a dozen eggs was 40 cents.

The USDA had no reports for 1980s and early 90s.

In 1993, the USDA reported that the nation’s farmers produced approximately 72 billion eggs. It did not report a price.

In 2000, the USDA reported that the nation’s farmers produced approximately 84.4 billion eggs. It did not report a price.

In 2010, the USDA reported that the nation’s farmers produced approximately 91.1 billion eggs. It did not report a price.

For August of 2017, the USDA reported that the nation’s farmers produced 8.85 billion eggs from some 371.4 million laying hens. Estimates are that for 2017, egg production could be up to around 106 billion eggs. That’s about 326 eggs for every person in America in 2017.

The largest egg producing state in the U.S. is Iowa, which may produce some 14 billion eggs this year or roughly 13 percent of the nation’s eggs.

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