May is Egg Month – let’s celebrate
By KEVIN STILES
Iowa Egg Council
Perhaps it is part of our “Iowa Niceness,” but we, in agriculture in the state, don’t often take time to celebrate and reflect on our successes. May Egg Month provides a time to celebrate our innovative and dedicated Iowa egg farmers, businesses, and egg community. Iowa is the number one egg producing state in the country and has been for more than 15 years. Yet, until 2015 and Avian Influenza nearly no one in the state knew this. This is just one thing that Iowa’s egg producers and the many other players in the egg and poultry community have to celebrate this May.
We have many other things to stand up and cheer for as well. We have a product that is championed by so many, including some of the same health professional groups that called for limiting egg consumption just a few years ago. Eggs are on trend today. They are natural, protein rich and full of many other essential nutrients. Per capita egg consumption has grown in the U.S. from 248 to 268 over about the past five years. Around the offices of the Iowa Egg Council and at the American Egg Board, that, is in itself, has been reason to celebrate. We celebrate increased availability of eggs in new channels and locations. All-day breakfast at McDonald’s and other foodservice outlets will help continue increase egg consumption moving forward. We are seeing Iowa schools and those across the country significantly increase eggs on breakfast and lunch menus which should help increase egg consumption as we look to the future and these students become life-long egg consumers.
We should also celebrate the families committed to raising healthy birds and nutritious eggs. Those farm families, the employees and their families and the employees of the egg processing facilities share in this role and our success. We appreciate those companies that support our industry and bring us the latest products and technologies that enhance the efficiencies, effective production methods and provide for a sustainable industry.
Our appreciation is extended to the many partnerships that exist within our industry that also play a role in our success. The Iowa egg community has a strong partnership with Iowa State University – at the Egg Industry Center, at the Animal Science Department and at the ISU College of Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory. These groups drive the research in egg and poultry production, disease control, and even research on egg products that lead to new uses and increase consumption. Partnerships that benefit the egg community extend to the American Egg Board, the national check-off with whom we at the Iowa Egg Council look to collaborate to increase health professional and consumer awareness of the nutrition value and all the benefits of eating eggs. Our producers also have reason to be thankful and celebrate the animal health and biosecurity partnerships that we have with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship (IDALS). All these players have worked diligently with the Iowa Poultry Association, egg farmers and the allied egg industry to improve biosecurity, mitigate disease risk and prepare should an outbreak occur. We are so much better prepared should there be an outbreak than we were in 2015. Our commercial egg farmers have greatly improved biosecurity practices on their farms and egg processors have stepped up their protocols as well to guard against any major spread of the disease should it again come to Iowa.
The entire state of Iowa should celebrate the role that our industry contributes to our economic success, along with many of Iowa’s farmers and agribusinesses. Iowa has a significant economic impact on our state’s economy. According to the Egg Industry Center at Iowa State University, the egg industry contributes $1.3 Billion in sales and has $2.36 billion in direct and indirect sales impact on the state’s economy. The Iowa egg industry accounts for more than 8,800 jobs and contributes over $500 million in personal income each year. Most recent figures from Iowa State shows the egg industry in Iowa accounts for 61.6 million bushels of corn and 566,700 tons of soybean meal used each year.
As we make our way through May Egg Month, I hope you will join me in celebration of our industry, our families, our partners and most importantly our product. Let’s remain hopeful that egg consumption continues to increase and we fully recover our export market and egg usage in food formulations over the coming months so we have even more to celebrate later this year and next May Egg Month.
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