Forget the old phrase (misattributed to Herbert Hoover, by the way), “a chicken in every pot,” as egg prices continue to soar across America, several new bills recently introduced in the Texas Legislature would allow residents of the Lone Star State to have chickens in “every” backyard.

As reported by the Killeen Daily Herald last Thursday, Texans are currently paying between roughly $4 and nearly $9 for a dozen eggs at H-E-B Grocery Company, based in San Antonio, for example, equal to or more than the cost of rotisserie chickens. (Personally, I’d rather have the rotisserie chicken.)

Anyway, that’s a helluva jump, egg lovers. David Anderson, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension economist, Bryan-College Station, told the Herald that a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture retail egg report showed that a dozen eggs cost $1.79 in December 2021 and $4.25 on average in December 2022 nationwide.

According to Anderson, “one reporter in Houston interviewed a backyard producer who told them this is the first time ever that it’s been cheaper to produce eggs than buy them at the store.”

The situation with egg prices is something people are following now, but I think it is also something that happened over the course of time with several factors aligning.

So in response to continued demand, constrained supply, and rising prices, both Texas Republican and Democrat lawmakers have proposed bills to allow more Texans to have egg-laying hens in their backyards.

One state senator recently filed legislation that would allow up to six chickens in a single-family residential lot, although the bill would impose “reasonable restrictions,” including prohibiting roosters, breeding, and designating a minimum distance between a chicken coop and another lot. OK, that answers a few questions that immediately came to mind.

The various bills filed would also allow municipalities to impose reasonable regulations on control odor, noise, safety, and sanitary conditions that don’t “have the effect of prohibiting the raising or keeping of the fowl or rabbits.” Wait, rabbits? Ah, Easter eggs — never mind.

Listen, far be it from me to oppose Americans having chickens in their backyards (as long as they live nowhere near me), but how the heck did we get to the point in 2023 America where it’s cheaper to have chickens — and all that implies —in your backyard instead of buying eggs at your local grocery store or wherever?

As reported by the Wall Street Journal in mid-February, since the start of 2022, highly pathogenic avian influenza has led to the deaths of about 58 million birds. It is the deadliest outbreak of all time and the worst one since 2015, when 50 million birds were culled, according to U.S. Agriculture Department data.

U.S. egg inventories were 29% lower in the final week of December 2022 than at the beginning of 2022, according to the USDA. More than 43 million egg-laying hens had died as a result of the malady by the end of December.

“Lower-than-usual shell egg inventories near the end of the year, combined with increased demand stemming from the holiday baking season, resulted in several successive weeks of record-high egg prices,” USDA economists said in a January research note.

Egg prices have also increased as part of overall food inflation driven by rising costs of labor, ingredients and logistics. Higher feed and transportation costs for producers mean shoppers will continue to face elevated egg prices even when the bird flu’s effects diminish, said CoBank‘s Mr. Earnest.

What goes up, must come down?

Fear not, egg lovers, across the fruited plain. As reported by Reuters, last week, the USDA projects the price of eggs will fall nearly 30 percent in 2023. The projection by experts assumes that projection assumes that won’t be continued avian flu outbreaks.

So, if families all over Texas decide to have chicken coops in their backyards, what will they do with all those chickens after egg prices hopefully decline to previous levels?

Winner, winner, chicken dinner! of course.

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