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Egg prices are high, could go higher

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Cartons of eggs inside a Brookshire Brothers in College Station on Jan. 23. Egg prices have climbed to all-time highs amid the avian flu pandemic. Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Michael MillerCartons of eggs inside a Brookshire Brothers in College Station on Jan. 23. Egg prices have climbed to all-time highs amid the avian flu pandemic. Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Michael Miller

By Adam Russell

Texas AgriLife Extension

Egg prices continue to set all-time per-dozen price records, and a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert does not expect that trend to reverse in the near future.

David Anderson, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension economist, Bryan-College Station, said inflationary pressure and the worst avian flu outbreak in U.S. history have combined to send egg prices upward over much of the last year.  

For a year-to-year comparison, prices reached $4.25 per dozen on average in December 2022 across the nation, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture retail egg report. A dozen eggs was $1.79 at the same time last year.

The previous peak price occurred in September 2015 – $2.97 per dozen – and was also attributable to an avian influenza outbreak.

Anderson said he has been inundated with media requests on the subject as the topic of egg prices has become a major talking point among the consuming public.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Avian flu driving egg prices upward

Higher production and logistical costs like feed and fuel have contributed, but the top factor driving egg prices to record highs is an ongoing outbreak of avian influenza, Anderson said. The highly pathogenic viral disease hit the U.S. poultry industry in early 2022 and cases continue to pop up at poultry farms nationwide.

The USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA-APHIS, reported almost 58 million commercial poultry birds, including broiler and egg-laying chickens, turkeys and various fowl have been lost to the virus, now reported in 46 states.

The USDA estimated around 43 million egg-laying hens were cut from the U.S. flock through December. The disease hits egg-laying chicken flocks harder because birds are in production much longer than broiler chickens, which increases their risk of exposure to the pathogen. 

The losses resulted in U.S. egg inventories that were 29% lower than January 2022, according to the report.

Anderson said the avian flu struck at a time when egg layer numbers had already been reduced.

There were 340 million table egg layer hens in the U.S. flock in December 2019. By December 2020, table layer numbers had been reduced by 13 million hens, to 327 million, as egg production responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and higher feed costs. The number of table layers remained static through December 2021, and then the avian influenza outbreak dropped the number of hens below 300 million by June.

Profit incentive has pushed poultry producers to restore flock numbers amid the outbreak, but egg-producing operations continue to be hit by the disease. USDA-APHIS disease control and containment protocol calls for euthanization and disposal of all birds in a house exposed to the disease.  

“We’ve seen producers respond by building back the flock numbers, but farms are still getting wiped out,” he said. “They were up to 308 million by December 2022, but it’s two steps forward, one step back.”

Egg demand peaks around Easter

Wholesale prices continue to rise, which indicates retail egg prices have not peaked, he said.  The teetering flock numbers couldn’t come at a worse time for consumers.

The January USDA egg report showed prices were steady to slightly lower than December, but yearly prices for eggs often peaks each spring due to Easter holiday egg hunts and baking, he said.

“We have a built-in holiday-driven demand for table eggs,” he said. “That demand bump is on the horizon, but the higher prices are also a signal to consumers to use less, so it will be interesting to see if there will be a demand adjustment this Easter.”

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Detectives looking for scammer

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Scam Stock

Jose Garza GonzalesJose Garza GonzalesOfficers are asking the public for help in nabbing a man accused of theft.

Polk County Sheriff’s Office Detectives are investigating a scamming case where the suspect took advantage of an elderly resident, defrauding her of a large amount of money.

Detectives identified the suspect as Jose Karim Garza-Gonzales, 33, of Kingwood, Texas. Garza-Gonzales is a contractor, who owns a business located in Kingwood.

The victim paid Garza-Gonzales over $28,000 up front, and he then never returned to perform any of the work. Subsequent to their investigation, detectives obtained a third-degree felony warrant on Garza-Gonzales, for theft of property from the elderly.

Garza-Gonzales is also wanted by Galveston County for a similar case of defrauding an elderly victim out of thousands of dollars and never completing any work.

Those with information in reference to this case or any other, or know the whereabouts of Garza-Gonzales, are asked to contact the sheriff’s office or a local law enforcement agency.

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Corrigan collision kills two students

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TwoKilled

Two students have died from a vehicle accident Friday afternoon in Corrigan.

The deceased were students at Stephen F. Austin University traveling on Highway 59 at approximately 1:32 p.m.

A 2007 Nissan Versa was traveling southbound on Highway 59 in Corrigan, when an 18-wheeler was exiting Plant Road onto the highway. The 18-wheeler made a left-hand turn traveling north bound onto the highway. According to Corrigan Police, the Nissan Versa struck the trailer of the 18-wheeler, causing the vehicle to become entrapped under the trailer.

The Corrigan Police Department, Corrigan Volunteer Fire Department, and Texas Department of Public Safety all responded to the accident. The driver of the Nissan Versa, Micah McAfoose, 18, succumbed to his injuries upon impact. The passenger, Graylan Spring, 19, was airlifted to HCA Houston Healthcare in Conroe, where he later succumbed to his injuries received in the accident. The driver of the 18-wheeler is said to have suffered no injuries.

Both were student-athletes for the Lumberjacks. McAfoose was a baseball athlete from Cy Ranch High School and Spring was a football player from Vandegrift High School. A candlelight vigil was held on campus at Homer Bryce Stadium Monday.

The accident is under an ongoing investigation with the Corrigan Police Department.

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Jackie Wilson tribute show coming to town

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ChesterGregory

From Enterprise Staff

“Chester Gregory: Tribute to Jackie Wilson & Friends,” the Livingston Community Concert Association’s first concert of the new year, is slated for 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Polk County Commerce Center located at 1017 U.S. Hwy. 59 Loop North in Livingston. The concert will feature Chester Gregory, an award-winning actor and singer from Gary, Ind.

Memberships in the Livingston Community Concert Association may be purchased for as little as $50 per person and family rates are also available. A membership allows one to attend all concerts per season. For additional information go to www.livingstoncommunityconcert.org or contact Sally Frasier at 936-967-0219.

A teacher in the Lake County School System by day, Gregory moonlighted as an actor in Chicago’s theater district at night. He wrote and produced both plays and musicals for his students – inspiring them and nurturing their creative talents.

He became a full-time actor and performer soon after landing the lead role in the critically acclaimed stage play The Jackie Wilson Story (which had a three-year run of sold-out performances) at the Black Ensemble Theater in Chicago. He has since performed all over the world in iconic roles on stage and on screen.

His performance in The Jackie Wilson Story gifted him with an opportunity to perform for Michael Jackson, who gave Gregory a standing ovation. The same week of the Jackson performance, he debuted as “Seaweed” in the Tony Award winning “Hairspray.” He has since starred in multiple Broadway musicals including “Tarzan,” “Cry-Baby,” “Sister Act,” and “Fences.” Additionally, he has toured and performed internationally with “Motown the Musical,” “Dreamgirls,” and “Sister Act.”

Gregory has received multiple awards including an NAACP Theatre Award and Joseph Jefferson Award. He has received keys to his home city of Gary, Ind. as well as East Chicago. He has also received other awards – the Black Theater Alliance Award, the Black Excellence Award, the Special Recognition Award from the National Black Theatre Festival, New York Post Favorites and Broadway World.

In 2013 he created, produced and starred in the one-man show, The Eve of Jackie, which premiered in New York to sold out audiences at 54 Below and at Chicago’s Black Ensemble Theater. His production was then chosen to headline the National Black Theatre Festival. Gregory continues to perform to sold out audiences across the country. This will be a performance not to be missed.

 

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100th birthday

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Hershel Mackey of Ace was feted with quite the celebration for his 100th birthday Wednesday. Long involved in the local community, Mackey is well-respected and greatly loved by many. He served many years as the chief of the South Polk County Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) and was also instrumental in the creation of the Ace Community Park. Numerous firefighters from the South Polk County VFD, North Liberty County VFD, Livingston VFD, Segno VFD and Holiday Lake Estates VFD celebrated with him, as well as folks with Texan EMS and Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy. Shown with Christopher Moehlmann, the current chief of the South Polk County VFD, Mackey was honored with a flag and a commemorative certificate from State Rep. Trent Ashby. Courtesy photo

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