There was an article in the October 29 edition of the Lancaster Farming Newspaper about how the conventional poultry industry is caught in a "perfect storm" of economic conditions which are largely outside of their control. Poultry companies are losing millions of dollars each quarter. There are a number of factors. One is the high cost of feed. Conventional corn went from $3.25 a bushel a year ago to $7.50. There is the dropping value of the U.S. dollar which affects exports. There are also high energy costs and the wholesale price of chicken is down because of reduced demand for chicken in the U.S.
It was stated that there has been nothing like this in the history of the chicken industry. According to the article, a major driver in the high feed costs is the production of ethanol. Ethanol production diverts half of the U.S corn crop into into fuel production and yet only offsets less than 1 percent of our petroleum imports. One thing that caught my eye was the prediction that corn will go up to $11 or $12 dollars a bushel next year. If it does, it will have a major impact on poultry, beef and pork production in the U.S. Hopefully this prediction is wrong. If conventional corn goes up to $11 or $12 dollars a bushel it could push organic corn up to $25 or more a bushel. That would hurt our farm as well. This year our small farm will spend in the neighborhood of $100,000 on feed! If feed costs continue to drastically go up our eggs and chicken will also have to rise in price as well.
Sustainable agriculture is not just about how we treat the land, but it is also about being profitable enough be able to continue to produce food. If a "sustainable" farm does everything right in how it treats the soil and how it treats its animals, but it fails to make a living wage, it is not sustainable. Most people here in America are disconnected from their food and what goes into producing that food. The assumption by many is that the grocery store will always be full and will have what they want at a cheap price. That may not always be the case. This next year looks like it is going to be an interesting year. Is our farm going to crawl in a hole and expect the worst? No! We are moving forward and hoping and praying for the best. Last week we received 1,100 new egg layer chicks to replace some of our older hens and to increase the laying flock. The demand for our eggs is still greater than what we can supply. Thank you for your support in these difficult economic times.