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May the Egg Be With You

Touch the Soil News #1067 (Feature photo – The Egg – CCA SA 2.0 Generic) Finding that perfect banana, strain of wheat, dairy cow or egg-laying hen is couched in the human mind as finding highest-yielding and lowest cost solution. Generally this path leads to a decline in genetic diversity and a building-up of drugs and chemicals to combat disease. The world’s largest chicken genetics and seller of commercial laying chickens is a private company called Hy-Line International. Headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, the company has over 60 distributors in more than 50 countries world-wide. Hy-line recently made news when it announced the opening of the world’s largest layer…

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Nigeria Egg Scheme – Using Public Instead of Private Capital

Touch the Soil News #914 (Feature photo – The Central Bank of Nigeria – CCA SA 4.0 International License) Rarely, is there a scheme in modern economics that employs a central bank for the purposes of directly financing food production and jobs. In the U.S., for example, the central bank is the Federal Reserve. In a recent article in The Guardian of Nigeria, the Nigerian Government unveiled a plan to create 1 million jobs by creating a sprawling egg-production complex across all the states in Nigeria. The goal is to produce 50 million eggs a day for national consumption as well as export. The name of the plan is NEGPRO…

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American Egg Time Capsule

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.  …

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Costco Eggs See a Change of Venue

Touch the Soil News #803 (Feature photo – Hutterite women return from working in the fields at sunset – Rainer Mueller – CCA 3.0) Making history in the U.S. is the unusual business arrangement by Costco with Hutterite colonies of Montana to grow, grade and pack organic eggs. News outlets have been abuzz with the recent opening of a 58,000 square foot facility ($9 million cost) that will process more than 280 million eggs a year. Located in Great Falls, Montana, the facility will supply Costco with Montana-grown, free-rage, organic eggs. The eggs are sourced exclusively from over 30 Hutterite colonies in Montana which together make up the ownership of…

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Corruption in the Food Chain Hurts Everyone

Touch the Soil News #796 (Feature photo public domain) The global scandal surrounding Fipronil – an illegal insecticide used to treat chickens against ticks and fleas – has reached colossal proportions. Millions of eggs tainted with the product have been pulled from the shelves of 15 European Union nations plus the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Hong Kong. One of the largest grocers in the EU pulled all the eggs off its shelves in 4,000 stores at one point about a month ago. The scare has alerted health officials around the world and egg laying farms are being investigated around the globe. As of this writing, news reports from many corners…

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Egg Tremors

Touch the Soil News #771 (Feature photo Maksym Kozlenko CC SA 4.0)) Aldi, the largest grocer in Germany with over 4,000 stores, pulled all eggs out of its store last week. Widespread traces of an illegal chemical – Fipronil – has been discovered on eggs in the European Union. Historically, the chemical was used to kill ticks and mites in egg laying flocks. However, the European Union – over health concerns to humans – has made use of the insecticide illegal. It was discovered that egg producers in the Netherlands were using a product to keep mites and ticks out of their facilities that contained Fipronil. Millions of eggs have…

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Should You Have Your Own Chickens for Eggs?

Touch the Soil News #586 (feature photo – Phil Catterall CC 2.0) The consolidation in the agricultural industry just keeps on going. This is illustrated in virtually all farm-raised foods, including eggs. Not that you are going to jump out and start raising chickens in your backyard – which by the way is gaining popularity in the U.S. Twenty years ago, 99 percent of all eggs produced came from around 350 different farms. Today, 99 percent of all eggs produced come from only 192 farms. There is little question today that the national egg supply can be at risk to Avian Influenza outbreaks (see news piece #581 – Got Eggs?).…

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Got Eggs?

Touch the Soil News #581 The Avian Influenza is a disease that infects hens that lay eggs. The Avian Influenza is a virus that causes high mortality rates in hens. The only way to stop it is to cull (destroy) the entire flock of hens in which an infected hen is found. Over the last couple of months, the nation of South Korea has been hit hard with Avian Influenza. As of recent, South Korea has had to cull about 20.5 million of its 80 million laying hens. The dramatic decline in egg production is hitting the nation hard. What is spooky about the whole Avian Influenza is that there…

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Clutching for Health

Touch the Soil News #471 Imagine waking up in the morning in a nation that must feed almost 1.4 billion people, but has slightly less productive crop land than the U.S. with only 325 million people. Now, if that is not enough, imagine that you must compete for a healthy diet with other consumers bidding up the price. Yes, you are in China. This all sets the stage for a booming demand in China for what is called algal EPA-fortified eggs. At the heart of the matter is algae and special strains of algae from which the EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is derived. Laying hens are given feed that contains the…

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Eggs – When is Big… Big Enough?

Touch the Soil News #452 Recently, Cal-Maine, America’s largest egg producer (and the world’s largest), announced it was buying Dixie Egg Company. Headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, Cal-Maine has 36.4 million laying hens. When Dixie’s 3.1 million laying hens are added, Cal-Maine will have almost 40 million laying hens which will represent close to 25 percent of the nation’s egg market. Not surprisingly, two of Cal-Maine’s largest customers are Wal Mart and Sams Club. Cal-Maine is a publically traded company that is engaged in the production, packing and sale of fresh shell eggs. The company produces over 1 billion dozen eggs each year. The company can process and pack over 400,000…

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