Editorial

 

We Must Not Take EU and Asian HPAI Lightly

Dec 2, 2016

    

With the deteriorating HPAI situation in Asia and the EU, the U.S. industry should look to its defenses against introduction of AI virus onto commercial farms.  The events in the EU over past weeks closely follow the pattern of infection in 2014 with sporadic outbreaks resulting from direct and indirect contact between commercial flocks and migratory waterfowl and other free-living birds which carry virus and which is shed into the environment. 

In anticipation of a 2016 introduction, a consortium of state and federal wildlife biologists in cooperation with USDA-APHIS and ARS are conducting surveillance on hunter-killed ducks and dead birds collected in areas where migratory species congregate.  It is anticipated that over 35,000 birds will be sampled in fiscal 2016.

Initial reports confirm that outbreaks in Korea and Japan are caused by H5N6 HPAI.  All of the outbreaks in India, Israel and now twelve European nations are caused by H5N8 virus which has close similarities to the infective agent responsible for mortality in Asia in 2014.

Given that it is highly probable that virus will be introduced into the lower 48 states through one of the four flyways, biosecurity should be intensified. All of the poultry associations, the USDA, Land-Grant universities and extension personnel have written extensively on biosecurity procedures to limit introduction of infection.  Most of these recommendations involve the lowest tier of biosecurity which may or may not be effective, given deficiencies in physical facilities and the possible routes of infection.

 

Essentially biosecurity should be viewed as a pyramid. The highest tier is represented by Conceptual Biosecurity.  This relates to the relative position of farms and complexes, proximity to flyways and major roads and the movement and concentration of poultry in a given area. Unfortunately the deficiencies at this level cannot be changed but intensification of the succeeding tiers of biosecurity can compensate from inherent high risk.

The second tier comprises Structural Biosecurity which requires capital investment in facilities to allow for effective biosecurity procedures.  These include fencing, hardened road surfaces, efficient vehicle wash installations and modules to allow changing and showering of personnel before entry to the designated biosecure area surrounding poultry houses.

The third tier involves Operational Biosecurity comprising the routine procedures involving entry of personnel and vehicles to the biosecure area, decontamination, movement of live birds and products and their routing to and from central facilities including packing plants and feed mills.

Following the devastating epornitic in the upper Midwest in 2015, many integrators and farmers upgraded biosecurity.  The extent of their efforts as observed this year vary widely. Some operations simply pay lip service to recommendations with minimal effort to reduce risk of introducing infection. The more progressive operations have undergone a major phase-shift by developing a culture of biosecurity matched by extensive capital investment in facilities and installations. These are designed to limit the possibility of introduction of infection by personnel, vehicles and products through intensive Operational Biosecurity with written procedures, training, supervision and auditing.

Experience has shown that our industry has a short memory.  Biosecurity was a serious consideration after the 1984 outbreak of H5N1 HPAI in Pennsylvania and adjoining states.  Within two years there was an obvious decline in intensity at the operational level and there was very little to show in the form of improvements in structural biosecurity.  In contrast, the magnitude of losses in 2015 motivated investments to upgrade facilities. 

The amount which can be expended on biosecurity is a function of risk of introduction of infection, the effectiveness of the biosecurity precaution and the magnitude of losses subsequent to introduction of infection.  In the case of HPAI losses arise not only from depletion of the flock, (hopefully compensated for with Federal indemnity) and decontamination but consequential losses resulting from decreased output during restocking, loss of goodwill and other factors add to the cost of infection.

EGG-CITE has previously posted calculations which can be performed to demonstrate the return on expenditure on biosecurity and the relationship between risk factors and investment to minimize losses. If there are deficiencies in Structural or Operational Biosecurity now would be the time to reevaluate the susceptibility of operations to possible introduction of infection and to effect improvements.

From visits to egg production operations throughout the U.S. it is evident that there is a wide standard of compliance with accepted principles of biosecurity.  It is noted that in the EU during 2014 and 2015, despite individual farm outbreaks, costs accruing to the egg production industry were relatively minimal.  This is in part due to the fact that there are no ultra-large in-line units such as those that were affected in the Midwest in 2015. The preemptive planning in the EU, based on previous epornitics involved rapid diagnosis followed by elimination and disposal of small flocks within 24 hours which reduced lateral spread to other commercial farms. The experience gained in the U.S. during 2015 was applied to the January 2016 outbreak in Indiana which was restricted to the index farm and nine contact premises achieving rapid eradication.

It is anticipated that in the event that HPAI is introduced to the U.S. in 2017 that the lessons we have learned will be applied to minimize losses.  Carbon dioxide foam can be used to deplete floor-housed flocks given appropriate logistics support. Ventilation Shut-Down will be employed for caged flocks, some of which now exceed 350,000 hens in a single building. The problem with carcass disposal is still not resolved in many areas and the long-term prospects for Federal indemnity cannot be taken for granted.  Policy relating to vaccination in the face of a serious outbreak has yet to be resolved. In addition to the technical problems we will be faced with a new Administration although we hope that experienced and seasoned professionals in USDA-APHIS will be given the latitude they need to effectively counter both limited and extensive outbreaks. 

The resources of the Federal government and states should however be supported by individual efforts by all producers and contractors to make every effort to eliminate possible direct and indirect contact between free-living birds which serve as carriers and our flocks, all of which should be confined to bird-proof buildings. In the event that a flock is infected, effective biosecurity at the Structural and Operational levels will be required to prevent inter-farm dissemination of HPAI virus. Given that flocks are infectious before demonstrating clinical signs or mortality, constant vigilance and conformity to high standards of Operational Biosecurity are required.

   

Egg Industry News

 

USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, November 28th 2016

Dec 2, 2016

    

OVERVIEW

Midwest-wholesale prices for all sizes remained constant this week after a 25 percent fall the previous week. The progression of prices during 2016 is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.

The Friday November 18th USDA Combined Region value which lags Midwest Weekly values by one week, followed last week’s decrease in price for Midwest commodity eggs delivered to warehouses, with a 16 cent per dozen decline to $0.51 per dozen, compared to the 12-month trailing peak price of $1.50 per dozen in early November 2015.

  

The USDA Combined range for Large, in the Midwest was $0.46 per dozen. At the high end of the range, price in the Northeast Region, attained $0.54 per dozen. The current USDA Combined Price is approximately $1.40 per dozen below the three-year average which is inflated by the rise in prices during 2015, attributed to the post-HPAI shortage of all eggs.

The driver for depressed prices is the increased production from a large number of hens relative to demand. There is concern over the steady increase in the national flock in previous weeks although hen numbers stabilized this past week at 302.5 million in production. Generic shell-egg stock decreased by 6.4 percent. Dried-egg inventory of 27 million pounds is extremely high, as is the stock of frozen egg products.    

INVENTORY

Cold storage stocks in selected regions on November 21st amounted to 2.954 million pounds, 3.2 percent below the stock of 2.862 million pounds during the week of November 1st.

The monthly USDA Cold Storage Report released on November 22nd documented 33.419 million pounds in total stock of frozen egg products on October 31st 2016. This was down 10.8 percent from October 31st 2015. Approximately 86 percent of inventory comprised the categories of “Whole and Mixed” (31.8 percent) and “Unclassified” (54.6 percent).

The national stock of generic shell eggs was down 6.4 percent this past week, compared to a 7.7 percent decrease in inventory during the previous week.  Inventory in the Midwest was down 5.4 percent to 398,000 cases; in the South Central region, down 11.7 percent to 198,800 cases. The Southeast was down 6.0 percent to 227,300 cases, the Southwest down by 11.4 percent to 181,200 cases but the Northwest inventory was up 6.0 percent to 120,600 cases.

The total USDA Six-Area stock of commodity eggs comprised 1,254,900 cases, of which 82.9 percent were shell eggs. The inventory of breaking stock was down 0.1 percent to 259,300 cases. The low price for breaking stock reflects the availability of eggs from both mature and young flocks in relation to the prevailing demand for generic eggs.

Specialty egg inventory was down 2.3 percent compared to an increase of 6.4 percent the previous week, to 213,000 cases with organic stock comprising 57.0 percent of inventory (56.9 percent for the previous week). Recent data suggests a fluctuating build in the stock of USDA Certified Organic product. This is attributed to an apparent trend by consumers to purchase less-expensive brown cage-free product over more costly organics. During the past week the retail price of cage-free brown increased 2 cents percent to $2.76 per dozen while Certified Organic eggs rose 5 cents per dozen to $3.80 per dozen, representing a differential of $1.04 per dozen ($1.01 per dozen last week).  Large week-to-week fluctuations can be expected in the stock of specialty and organic eggs based on the small base of these categories.

According to the monthly USDA Cage-free Hen Report for November 2nd the number of hens held in other than conventional cages during September comprised:-

Total U.S. flock held for USDA Certified production = 14.1 million       (was 13.5 million, October)

Total U.S. flock held for cage-free production            =  23.5 million       (was 17.0 million, October)

Total U.S. non-caged flock                                         = 37.6 million (12.5 percent of a nominal 300 million flock)

For the week ending November 19th eggs processed under FSIS inspection rose 6.0 percent compared to the previous week attaining a level of 1,580,979 cases. The proportion of eggs broken by in-line complexes reached 51.9 percent, confirming the extent of restocking of large units in Iowa and Nebraska impacted by HPAI in 2015. During the corresponding week in 2015 in-line breakers processed 41.6 percent of eggs including imports, denoting the severe mortality affecting approximately eight large in-line complexes affected by HPAI in 2015.  The price of breaking stock delivered to Central plants remained at a range of 17 to 19 cents per dozen. The price of checks was unchanged over a range of 7 to 8 cents per dozen representing a “rock bottom” price well below the average cost of production for nest-run, estimated by the EIC at 59 cents per dozen for October 2016.

   
 

IPPE VISITORS TO LIVE BIRD OPERATIONS

Dec 2, 2016

    

In view of the widespread outbreaks of H5 influenza in the EU and Asia, exhibitors are urged to restrict visits to live bird facilities by attendees at the 2017 IPPE.

At a minimum, overseas visitors should not visit live bird facilities within 72 hours of arrival in the U.S.  It is assumed that appropriate personal decontamination including showering will be required but disrobing and donning a complete change of outer clothing would be the expected  minimum standard of Operational biosecurity.

  

   
 

HPAI IN JAPAN DISRUPTS EGG INDUSTRY

Dec 2, 2016

    

In recent years HPAI carried by migratory waterfowl affected operations on the Japanese island of Kyushu. The November 2016 emergence of H5N6 HPAI on the island of Honshu is causing disruption in egg production. 

Contacts in the industry indicate that a major egg processor has had to adjust their supply chain.  A hatchery within the 10km HPAI surveillance zone has suspended deliveries of pullets, again necessitating purchases from an alternative supplier.

  

   
 

MERIEUX NUTRISCIENCES LABORATORY TO RELOCATE TO GAINESVILLE, FL

Dec 2, 2016


    

Merieux NutriSciences will re-locate a laboratory in Florida to a new facility adjacent to the campus of the University of Florida.  The laboratory will provide microbiology and nutritional chemistry assays for the food industry in the Southeast U.S. 

   

In addition to retaining 70 positions in the Gainesville area the Company will add 30 new jobs over a 24-month period following opening of the facility in April 2017.

   
 

USDA PROJECTS SWITCH FROM CORN TO SOY PLANTINGS

Dec 2, 2016

    

The USDA projects that farmers will plant 84.6 million acres to soybeans in 2017 a one percent increase from 2016.  Corn plantings will be reduced by five percent to 90 million acres. 

Assuming normal weather conditions, the 2017 corn crop should be fractionally over 14 billion bushels, down from 15 bushels in 2016.  The soybean crop should top 4 billion bushels in 2017 but below the 4.4 billion bushel harvested in 2016.

  

Prevailing low prices for row crops will reduce purchases of fertilizer, fuel and seed by farmers.  Previously CHICK-CITE commented on the increased demand for non-GM seed which, with present prices and yields, is competing with GM seed which currently dominates the market.

Some farmers are opting for non-GM seed notwithstanding the reduction in yield and additional expenditures required on herbicides and insecticides, offset by a price premium.  This trend should favor the emergence of non-GM eggs and poultry meat, which will be positioned at a price between conventional and USDA Certified Organic. This category is sure to increase in price disproportionately compared to non-GM

   
 

DR. OZ SUED UNDER GEORGIA FOOD LIBEL LAW

Dec 2, 2016

    

Dr. Mehmet Oz, an accomplished thoracic surgeon who has turned into a TV- snake oil huckster has been sued by the North American Olive Oil Association under a Georgia Food Libel Law.

In a talk show on May 12th 2016, Oz opined that “Eighty percent of the extra virgin olive oil sold in supermarkets may be fake”.  The lawsuit has been brought against Oz in his personal capacity in addition to Entertainment Media Ventures Inc. and Zoco Productions, the business which produces the “Dr. Oz Show”.

  

Oz frequently uses alleged experts to bolster his claims. Avowed opponents of intensive livestock production are frequent visitors, deprecating conventional egg and meat production and GM technology. In the May 12th episode entitled, “Food Truth: What’s Really in Your Pancake Syrup”.  Maia Hirschbein, a self-styled “oleologist” commented on adulterated imported olive oil.  Hirschbein is in fact employed by the California Olive Ranch which is in competition with imported olive oil.

Oz has been the subject of criticism concerning his promotion of self-described natural products with claimed health benefits. In 2014 he was castigated by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) for promoting a coffee bean extract which was claimed to be an aid in reducing weight.  The manufacturer of the supplement was fined $3.5 million by the Federal Trade Commission and ordered to cease making weight-loss claims based on false evaluation of efficacy. Oz was either unaware of the fraud, which he should have been, or he deliberately neglected the distortions in the interests of commercial promotion.

   
 

TECHNOMIC PROJECTS LOW GROWTH RATE FOR RESTAURANTS

Dec 2, 2016

    

In a November 29th release restaurant analytical company Technomic released an update on 2016 and a forecast for 2017.  It is anticipated that annual growth for both years will be 3.5 percent.  Applying an inflation rate correction of 2.7 percent, real growth will approximate 0.8 percent. 

In commenting on the analysis, Joe Pawlak, Managing Principal of Technomics stated, “Major full service chains, especially in the casual dining sector of the market are really struggling”.  He added, “consumer economic uncertainty and labor issues and are putting strains on many full-service chains”.

  

Technomic’s also reduced the forecast for the limited-service sector to approximately 0.8 percent for 2017.  The Company commented that Chipotle which represents a sizable share of the fast casual industry was responsible for the downward revision covering 2016 and 2017.

   
 

SOUTH KOREA OBLIGED TO EXTEND HPAI DEPLETION

Dec 2, 2016

    

Officials in South Korea noted that following the diagnosis of four new cases of H5N6 in Central South Korea, at least 2.8 million additional birds will be culled in addition to the 1.7 million to date.  This represents approximately three percent of the poultry population of 85 million. 

According to Reuters, statements by the Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs and Government medical authorities have successfully prevented rejection of chicken and eggs by consumers by publicizing the fact that H5N6 is not transmissible to humans through food provided that items are adequately cooked.

  

It is also possible that publicity relating to the outbreak is overshadowed by the ongoing political crisis concerning the President.

Cases of H5N6 avian influenza among consumers in China are attributed to direct contact with live chickens including purchases at wet markets.

   
 

ROMANIA RECORDS HPAI IN WILD SWAN

Dec 2, 2016

    

A report to the OIE confirmed the isolation of H5N8 HPAI virus from a dead swan in southeast Romania presumably near the Danube delta. A spokesperson for the Veterinary and Food Safety Agency quoted by Reuters stated, “So far, based on our information, with the exception of the mentioned case, there is no suspicion that bird flu has appeared in domestic or wild birds on Romanian territory”. 

It will be remembered that swans were found to be both carriers of H5 AI and to be clinically affected by the virus in the 2014 outbreaks in the EU.

  

The widespread distribution of H5N8 in migratory birds with isolates from eleven nations extending from Sweden to Romania and also occurring in Israel and India demonstrates the potential for transmission to commercial poultry.  It is therefore imperative that all flocks should be confined to a building which is bird-proof and that appropriate biosecurity procedures should be followed to prevent introduction of virus by personnel or vehicles.

   
 

IOWA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE TO BUDGET FOR ENHANCED DISEASE PROTECTION

Dec 2, 2016

    

The impact of the 2015 HPAI outbreak on Iowa has motivated a $500,000 request for additional staff and resources at the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, according to State Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey. 

It is estimated that the HPAI epornitic in Iowa was responsible for losses amounting to $1.2 billion including 8,000 production jobs which were temporarily suspended and $145 million in lost taxes.

  

Additional staff are required to support farmers with advice on biosecurity and planning to prevent introduction of the disease.

   
 

World’s Oldest Living Person a Big Egg Consumer

Dec 2, 2016

    

Emma Morano the world’s oldest living person at 117 as certified by Italian authorities and the Guinness Book of Records, is an avid consumer of eggs.  Speaking from her home in the commune of Pallanza, near Lake Maggiore in the Piedmont Region, she noted that she eats as many as three eggs each day. 

International publicity including television interviews disclosed her alert mental state although understandably her physical abilities have deteriorated.  According to population databases she is the only living person to have been born in the 1800s.  Although she attributes her longevity to “her genetic makeup” the eggs have certainly helped.

  

If she has consumed three eggs per day since the age of 35, Morano has eaten close to 7,500 dozen or a little over six tons of eggs.

Viva Emma!

Emma Morano blowing out candles on her 117th birthday

   
 

USDA-APHIS Updates Industry on HPAI in Europe and Asia

Dec 2, 2016

    

In a conference call on Tuesday November 29th, the USDA-APHIS updated participants on the current HPAI situation involving H5N8 strain in numerous countries in Europe in addition to India and Israel. 

EGG-CITE and CHICK-CITE had reported on the ascending incidence rate in migratory and free-living birds in addition to outbreaks in commercial poultry. In Korea and Japan H5N6 is the pathogen of concern and has resulted in extensive losses.

  

In answer to a question concerning the U.S. vaccine stockpile, USDA officials indicated that the protective ability of the inactivated product would be ascertained against the H5N8 strain which will be acquired from Europe and tested in APHIS and ARS laboratories.  These same questions which arose in 2015 concerning possible deployment of vaccines are still under consideration.  These include the impact on trade, the homogeneity of vaccine in relation to H5N8 virus or other strains which may emerge in the U.S. and prevailing policy on the use of vaccines to control or prevent extensive outbreaks of HPAI instead of eradication.

Based on experience in both the EU and the U.S. in 2014 and 2015 and the most recent 2016 outbreaks, it is evident that migratory waterfowl and other free-living birds are responsible for introduction of the virus into areas beneath flyways.  Wildlife surveillance will continue in the U.S. with both hunter-killed birds and those found dead.  It is projected that 39,000 birds will be sampled in fiscal 2016, following approximately 50,000 last year.

   
 

Egg Production in South Africa

Dec 2, 2016

    

According to the June edition of the South African Poultry Association Bulletin the laying flock in South Africa averages 25 million hens with a fluctuation of approximately one percent per month. Production standards developed in 2011 correspond to international values with 96% rearing livability, 0.13 percent per week mortality during the laying period which extends from 18 to 74 weeks. 

   

The average hen-day production of 84 percent appears high although the Association claims 410,000 cases produced per week.  The commercial egg industry in South Africa consumes 1.177 million metric tons of feed at the present level of production.

   
 

Terry Golson Promotes Eggs

Dec 2, 2016

    

Terry Golson was a guest on CBS Sunday Morning on November 27th promoting the nutritional value of eggs.  Golson, the author of The Farmstead Egg Guide and Cookbook, is a proponent of backyard production, sharing her yard with 13 hens, each of which has a name. 

Although Golson does not represent the commercial industry, her enthusiasm for eggs is ultimately beneficial, especially as she used her appearance to debunk the "cholesterol myth” and praise the nutrients in eggs.

  

 

   
 

DOLLAR TREE POSTS IMPROVED FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE

Dec 2, 2016

    

In a press release dated November 22nd, Dollar Tree announced earnings of $89.7 million on sales of $5 billion for the 3rd Quarter of fiscal 2016 which ended on October 29th.  Earnings were 10 percent higher than the corresponding quarter of fiscal 2015 and sales were 1.1 percent higher. 

Comparable same store increased by 1.7 percent and gross margin improved from 28.3 percent for the 3rd Quarter of 2015 to 30.4 percent for the3rdQuarter of 2016.  Recently acquired Family Dollar also demonstrated a low positive increase in same-store sales with an optimistic projection for future gains.

  

   
 

LIDL NOW RECRUITING SUPERVISORS

Dec 2, 2016

    

Previously CHICK-CITE noted that Lidl, the German-based, deep-discounter had initiated recruitment of managers to be trained both in the U.S. and Germany.  As a further indication of the company’s intent to establish in the U.S., Lidl US is now posting job openings for supervisory personnel. 

Lidl is actively evaluating alternative sites along the Atlantic seaboard but has also indicated an interest in the retail food market in Texas.

  

Lidl has seven stores under construction, 48 planned and 38 proposed according to informed sources. Quoted in Supermarket News, Will Howard a representative for Lidl noted, “We are continuing to build our operations and are accepting applications and building a talent pipeline for store leadership positions in a number of areas”.

In keeping with company policy, supervisors will be cross-trained in all functions including inventory control, stocking shelves, and operating registers.

   
 

PETA FUNDS ALTERNATIVES TO DIPHTHERIA TREATMENT

Dec 2, 2016

    

PETA has established a consortium of animal-welfare groups to fund research into a cell-culture source of antibody to treat cases of diphtheria in human patients.  A grant of approximately $150,000 has been awarded to the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany.

The objective is to displace equine-origin hyper-immune serum. Diphtheria can be effectively prevented by administration of vaccines and the need for hyper-immune serum therapy should be obsolete. 

  

It has been reported that horses in India used to produce antibody required to treat cases are maintained under deplorable conditions.  An alternative source of non-animal antibody would therefore be welcomed.  It is inexplicable that a nation such as India that reveres cows can be so neglectful of horses and other livestock species.

The level of funding provided to the German University is low in relations to the magnitude of research and development required and may well be a cosmetic gesture intended to buttress the altruistic image of an organization intent on promoting a vegan agenda.

   
 

LAND O’LAKES TO ACQUIRE THE FEED BUSINESS OF SOUTHERN STATES COOPERATIVE

Dec 2, 2016

    

Land O’Lakes Inc. announced on November 21st that it will acquire the animal feed businesses of Southern States Cooperative Inc. based in Richmond, VA. According to press reports, the feed business generated $300 million in sales in 2015.  Southern States was founded in 1923 and has more than 200,000 farmer-members.  The Cooperative operates 1,200 retail outlets in 23 states and supplies feed from a mill in Vinton, VA.

  

Southern States has a supply agreement with Land O’Lakes through the Winfield United segment.  Chris Policinski President and CEO of Land O’Lakes Inc. stated, “This is an excellent opportunity to expand our relationship with Southern States and increase our animal feed business in the Eastern U.S”.

Jeffers Stroburg, President and CEO of Southern States Cooperative commented, “We are pleased with the opportunities this partnership with a fellow cooperative brings to Southern States”.  He added, “Our members will continue to receive the same level of service from our retail locations while benefitting from Land O’Lakes feed business, Purina animal nutrition and their knowledge and experience in manufacturing the quality feed our customers expect”.

The transaction should be concluded by mid-2017.

   
 

Secondary Recall of Deli Sandwiches

Dec 2, 2016

    

A previous recall of hummus products manufactured and distributed by the Sabra Dipping Company has led to a secondary recall of deli sandwiches in the Great Lakes states.  LSG Sky Chefs Supply Chain Solutions Inc. used Sabra hummus spread which may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The recall was based on isolation of the pathogen from environmental samples in a Sabra plant as part of routine quality control procedures.  No cases of listeriosis have been recorded and potentially contaminated product has been removed from shelves.

  

   
 

Turkey Eggs are a New Gourmet Food Fad

Dec 2, 2016

    

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, serving turkey eggs has become a new celebrity-chef innovation. 

Given that most turkey eggs are produced for or by integrators for hatching, supply is derived from backyard farms.  Limited availability results in a high cost with values of $15 to $20 per dozen mentioned.

 

Since turkey eggs destined for table consumption come from small-scale farms, producers are subject to greater impact from seasonal reduced day length further impacting production. There is no food safety program for turkey eggs for table consumption and the risk of salmonellosis must be reduced by thorough cooking.

   

Shane Commentary

 

Chicken and Egg Initiative for Haiti

Dec 2, 2016

    

Recently the USPOULTRY website published a solicitation for donations for the “Chicken and Egg Initiative” organized by a faith-based 501(c) 3 charity 410 Bridge.  Their intent is commendable but the practicality and financial viability are questioned. 

Maintaining hens under free-range, subsistence conditions in rural Haiti will not result in any appreciable reproduction of stock or numbers of table eggs, especially without confinement, adequate nutrition and supplementary lighting during winter. 

  

The proposal notes that “410 Bridge will purchase and consolidate eggs produced by the families that will be sold to wholesalers in urban markets”. From personal experience and observation in Haiti, virtually all eggs sold on street markets are introduced from the Dominican Republic and distributed through a chain of middlemen and traders at prices far lower than could be produced under inefficient and primitive conditions in rural Haiti.

Given the realities of the island nation, the organizers of the project are challenged as to the practical and financial viability of the proposed enterprise. As far as the retail sale of eggs through supermarkets is concerned, packaged eggs are imported from the U.S. In addition, two local producers supply eggs at prices which approximate those of imported U.S. product. 

If the intent were to provide families with eggs to be consumed as a supplement to their meager nutrition, the project would be worthwhile but $35 for two chickens to be supplied to a family appears exorbitant. A far better approach would be to provide started pullets to village cooperatives housing hens in suspended cages in open sheds.

Eggs could be collected and shared within the community against payment for the pullets and feed. Balanced poultry feed is extremely expensive in Haiti since ingredients are imported. Distribution from Port-au-Prince to the interior will add to cost, placing a question mark on the viability of family farms operated as an income-generating project. Add to this, deficiencies in the transport infrastructure, institutional corruption and other restraints, the proposal appears to be a well-intentioned but impractical enterprise given the operating environment.

   

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Dr. Simon M. Shane
Simon M. Shane
Contact     C. V.

Industry Prices: Wed Dec 7
 Corn3.58 $/bu
 Soybeans10.49 $/bu
 Soybean Meal324.50 $/ton
 Eggs, Producer50  ¢/doz
 Eggs, Warehouse 52-55  ¢/doz