More government intervention into small farms will be authorized by the 2013 Farm Bill if the “Egg Bill” amendment is not removed. What the amendment will do is significantly raise the production costs of egg farmers due to federal mandates about the housing of the egg producing chickens. The Daily Caller reports:
If passed, the “Egg Bill” amendment will result in an unfunded government mandate on thousands of American family farmers. The amendment calls for federal requirements on the size and structure of egg producing facilities. This mandate could have significant consequences for farmers — especially the smaller, familyrun businesses.
This type of government intervention into the economy can mean only two things, 1) that the costs of producing eggs will increase and therefore be passed onto the consumer as higher prices for eggs and everything that includes eggs, or 2) smaller farms will go out of business due to the increased cost of updating their facilities, leaving only bigger egg producers profitable. Since this bill is supposedly meant to provide better conditions for the chickens, and a safer and healthier supply of eggs, it is concerning that only the larger businesses will remain viable.
According to a number of documentaries on the conditions of food processing in America, the larger farms which house chickens and produce eggs tend to have worse conditions for both the chicken and worse health safety standards. In addition, it is harder to track tainted products coming from a firm that supplies thousands of grocery stores, versus a small farm which supplies one region. The smaller farm has more at stake because the customers know where the eggs are coming from, and the farm will therefore maintain higher standards in order to remain a viable business; smaller farms have more incentive to produce a quality product than the larger farms. Unfortunately under the “Egg Bill” the farm down the street where you get your eggs may be no longer able to profitably produce eggs, and therefore our choices will be limited to large producers who sell at grocery stores.
This is yet another piece of legislation that intervenes in the market, and take choice away from the consumer. Instead of being able to choose between farm fresh eggs or the store brand, we will be forced to buy the store brand, or to pay a higher price for locally farmed eggs because of the increase in costs of production. Larger farms can always take an increase in production costs easier than their small competitors, because the increase in costs can be spread out more evenly, and certain cost saving mechanisms can be employed like a “buying in bulk” scenario. It would be less costly per unit to update 10 chicken barns, versus having to update just one. Many of the farms that would be forced to update their facilities would decide that it would not be worth the costs, and will stop producing eggs, leading to further increases in price because of the reduced supply. Whenever the government gets involved in the economy, it makes things worse, and this scenario is no different. The problem is that our government has become increasingly involved in our food supply, leading to more centralization of food production with the consumer having less control, and the government and large farms having more control. This is especially dangerous when it involves the food supply.