The egg checkoff has only proven to be a losing program for independent egg producers. According to data from United Egg Producers, the number of producers dropped from 2500 in 1987 to only 180 in 2012. All that money spent on advertising only increased the price of a dozen eggs by three cents over a nine-year period (price of eggs received by farmers in October, 2003 was .833 cents per dozen and in May, 2012 it was .863 cents per dozen).
The data shows that the egg checkoff has effectively cut independent egg producers off at the knees while making the egg market exceptionally profitable for large industrial egg companies. Presently, there are 65 egg producing companies with 1 million plus layers and 14 companies with greater than 5 million layers. Today, 95% of all the layers in the US are produced by approximately 180 egg producing companies with flocks of 75,000 hens or more. After 28 years of false promises from the egg checkoff, we’ve lost 2,320 egg farmers.
Organic farmers would be amiss not to be wary of checkoff programs. They don’t deliver for independent producers but instead build the marketing framework to support industrial agriculture. Organic was built by independent producers seeking to producer food in a different way that connects directly to the consumer and their communities. A checkoff program will dismantle the foundation organic was built on.