(Iowa News Service) A national farmers' advocacy group is asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the possibility of price collusion between major egg producers.
Eggs now average more than $4 a dozen nationally. Iowa reflects the trend, where a dozen eggs cost more than two-and-a-half times what they did a year ago.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has blamed a deadly avian flu outbreak and supply-chain problems for the egg shortage and sharp price hikes. But the rural advocacy group Farm Action contends its research proves those factors are not to blame.
Dee Laninga, senior writer for Farm Action, said her group investigated the USDA's data.
"We saw nothing that justified these egg prices, these price hikes," Laninga stressed. "They are up 138 percent since last year. That's more than double. Meanwhile, companies that haven't reported a single case of avian flu are raking in record profits, reaching as high as 40 percent in some cases."
In its letter to the commission, Farm Action called on chairperson Lina Khan to investigate, prosecute any violations of antitrust law and ultimately, "get the American people their money back."
Some egg producers have said the avian flu outbreak has made it difficult to get new laying hens. Inflation and supply-chain issues are also being blamed. But Laninga countered such factors do not justify the dramatic price increases.
"They blame a supply-chain disruption, but we don't actually, when we take a closer look, see any supply-chain issue that would justify the price hikes," Laninga asserted. "The avian flu outbreak does not explain it. The average flock sizes in 2022 never dropped more than 6 percent to 8 percent from previous year's levels."
So far, the commission has declined to comment, and the USDA reports egg prices are down slightly nationwide.