On June 22, 2015, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) urged Congress to not cut $500 million in funding from USDA programs. Schumer argued the funding should be used to help manage the current avian flu outbreak and could be used for vaccination efforts, “biosecurity” measures, as well as research costs to discover more on how the virus is transmitted.
According to the press release in the Senator’s website, the impact on consumers and retailers is already being felt and only expected to rise. The press release stated egg prices have increased to record levels. In New York, the average wholesale price for a dozen eggs ranges from $1.60-$1.66, beating the 2014 record of $1.42. “Breaker” eggs used by restaurants and other food producers have increased in price by 273%, causing companies to seek alternative ingredients in response to the decreasing supply.
According to the USDA website, as of June 17, 2015, 48,091,293 birds have been affected by Avian Influenza. Of the total birds affected, approximately 80% are egg laying hens, nationwide that accounts for 10% of the egg laying population.
The Fiscal Year 2016 Agriculture Appropriations Bill was approved by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on June 17. It was set to be considered by the full committee on June 25 but was postponed.
Written by Katharine Richter - Research Assistant
June 30, 2015