As California is about to make hen houses roomier to allow birds to move around more, eggs are about to get pricier.
A new law that takes effect next month requires farmers in The Golden State build more spacious cages for hens or keep fewer birds in the ones they have – either of which will cost them extra money. And since this disruption is coming at a time when consumption of eggs is increasing, it will ultimately lead to more expensive produce.
“Wholesale egg prices already average a record $2.27 a dozen nationally, up 34 percent from a year earlier. With the new law, the price Californians pay may jump as much as 20 percent for shell eggs in three to six months,” Dermot J. Hayes, an agribusiness professor at Iowa State University in Ames, explained in an interview.
However, the effects will not be limited to one state only primarily because California is the eighth-largest economy in the world and its laws usually have a significant impact on the practices of industries all over the country.
"You're going to see some really large spikes in the price of eggs in January," said Scott Ramsdell, who owns Dakota Layers, an egg farm in Flandreau, South Dakota. "I think we're going to have a shortage starting Jan. 1, and it's going to get worse until production meets the needs of demand," he added.
While Ramsdell has 1.3 million birds living in seven hen houses, he will build four more cages in compliance with the new law. According to him, the industry’s production costs will jump by 25 cents a dozen in the coming months.