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California egg production falls

by 5m Editor
11 April 2007, at 9:28am

CALIFORNIA - As California's agricultural heartland becomes increasingly suburban, the state's egg production has fallen to its lowest level in 50 years.

Karen Courtemanche might be getting new neighbors, and she hears their stench is unbearable.

Courtemanche lives a mile and a half from the site of a proposed 900,000-chicken farm, but she and other residents aren't putting out any welcome mats.

"I'm sorry, we just don't want them here," said Courtemanche, who lives in Lathrop, a city of about 15,000 residents some 60 miles south of Sacramento.

As California's agricultural heartland becomes increasingly suburban, the state's egg production has fallen to its lowest level in 50 years. Residents like Courtemanche -- as well as developers of a nearby 11,000-home subdivision under construction -- don't want the stench of egg farms near their homes.

The higher costs associated with consumer pressure for more humane, cage-free eggs is another factor, experts say.

"The state has grown and grown, and urban encroachment is something that significantly impacts any farmer," said Doug Kuney, a poultry expert with the University of California, Riverside. "As the farmer fights off development, development fights off animal agriculture and all that comes with it."

The number of chickens in California fell to 19.2 million last year, down from nearly 40 million birds in the 1970s, when egg production reached highs of more than 8.5 billion eggs.

The state failed to reach the 5 billion egg mark last year for the first time since 1959, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In fact, Iowa, Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania have all passed California, once No. 1 in the U.S., according to numbers released in March by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Until 1991, California was an egg exporter but now brings in eggs from other states to meet demand, Kuney said.

Source: ABCmoney.co.uk

5m Editor