‘Why are my $0.75 eggs now $3.99?’

Bowling Green farmers talk 'terribly perfect storm' of causes

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – A few months ago, big name stores sold a dozen eggs for $0.79. Now it seems like a miracle to buy 12 eggs for under $4.00.

‘Where, oh, where have my 75 cent eggs flown off to’? If you’re asking yourself this question, you’re not alone.

University of Kentucky agriculture extension agent Joanna Coles says the extreme egg inflation is the result of a terribly perfect storm.

“When you’re talking about doubling most of your grain prices, it can cause a definite effect to our commercial poultry flocks because that’s what their primary feed source is,” Coles explained.

Firstly, chicken feed like corn and grain are expensive due to drought in the Midwestern U.S. and conflict between Russia and Ukraine causing the grain shortage, according to Coles.

The Kentucky Farm Bureau reports prices for corn, soybeans and wheat have all three nearly doubled from 2020 to 2022.

One example from the data reads:

2020 July 12, 2022 Kentucky Cash Prices in Franklin, Ky. per Bushel                                                        Corn:$3.45              Soybeans $8.61              Wheat $5.07

2022 July 17, 2022 Kentucky Cash Prices in Franklin, Ky. per Bushel                                                         Corn:$7.79              Soybeans $16.87            Wheat $9.44

Local farmers like Allie Bentley from Bentley Farms sell a dozen eggs at around the same prices as big supermarkets, ending up taking losses on their egg sales.

“Eggs actually for us, at $5 a dozen, are the least profitable thing on our farm,” Bentley said. “Everything in the world we live in right now is increasing in price, and the price has to come out somewhere.”

Driving the chicken factors in as well when national gas prices are sky high.

“Just driving back and forth to the feed mill, be it once a week, once every three weeks or having it delivered, that affects things quite a bit,” Bentley added.

Additionally, Coles says the 2022 Spring outbreak of avian influenza was a small factor in egg cost increase. Losing 18 million, or six percent, of America’s laying hens around Easter time completely threw off the national supply and demand.

So, is raising your own laying hens a solution to easy low cost eggs?

Coles says that when “Raising your own chicken… breakeven cost when you consider housing, food, all the equipment will still cost you at a minimum $3 a dozen for eggs…. That’s what you’re paying for almost in the grocery store.”

Instead, both women suggest the same solution.

“One of the solutions is you can support your local farmers,” Coles said.

“The closer to home that you can keep your food, the more food secure that you are and the more money that you keep in your economy,” Bentley agreed.

Warren County is home to both egg producing and boiler, or meat laying, chicken farmers, so there’s no shortage of local farmers to support.