Avian Influenza or bird flu is affecting the entire nation due to the number of large flocks destroyed.
Bird Flu is spreading
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported 223 detections of Bird Flu resulting in 48 million birds destroyed. The birds are raised in huge numbers in densely populated, unclean and inhumane living environments where viruses thrive. Once bird flu is detected in these conditions there is virtually no way to stop it other than to destroy the entire flock.
CNBC reports that two of the nations top egg producers account for over 16 million birds destroyed alone.
Industrialized farming is a cheap agricultural system that produces inexpensive food but it has it’s risks. When profits are threatened as with the bird flu virus, the solution is to wipe everything out, restock, raise prices and start the cycle again until the next inevitable epidemic.
It’s a chance the industry takes. It’s inhumane and creates destabilized pricing for the consumer.
The last reported case of bird flu was in June 2015 according to the USDA. So why are egg prices still unstable and on the rise? Because the industrial farm can not sustain it’s large flocks. Large industrial farms are faced with destroying entire flocks due to a small amount of infections. Nebraska destroyed nearly 4 million birds when the virus was detected in only 10. The process of restocking takes 12 to 18 months and those months are costly to the consumer. We can expect to pay the tab well into 2016.
On the other hand, responsible Family Farmers practice sustainable farming methods in smaller batches. Yes, it is more expensive to the farmer but, family farms have a far better chance of avoiding an epidemic and other health risks simply because they have smaller flocks in better living conditions. In addition, the farmer is more attentive to the needs of each animal. Most family farmers still handle tasks by hand and understand better the health and needs of the animal.
No farm is immune. Bird flu can be spread by wild and commercial fowl. However a family farm stacks the deck in it’s favor to offer stable pricing. Look at the grocery chains and you will find prices up everywhere while a farm like C&D Family Farms in Knox, Indiana has not raised the price of eggs one penny.
Crystal Nells of C&D explains, “Do we need to rise prices? No. Our farms take precautions and can manage the birds they have. We are able to keep our prices predictable for the customer”.
Get to know your local farmer and get to know how the animal is raised. Knowing that the animal population on the farm is sustainable will go a long way in understanding prices even in time of uncertainty.