I’m sure you’ve noticed that real, grass-fed free-range eggs aren’t available in city supermarkets, and that they’re pretty rare even in the country. Not only that, but the few farmers who produce them rarely expand their operations. At best, they keep the same number of chickens every year.
This has been true for ages. Why?
The answer is that free-range eggs aren’t very profitable. Anyone who can make a buck from free-range eggs can make two bucks doing something else. If this weren’t true, the farmers would be expanding their flocks as fast as they could.
Why isn’t it profitable? Because consumers aren’t willing to pay what it would cost. By my calculations, real grass-fed free-range eggs would need to retail for about $10 per dozen in city supermarkets for the farmers to earn a living equal to the U.S. median family income. Of this $10 per dozen, the farmer would receive about half, while wholesalers and retailers would get the other half. (That’s how it always works.)
Out of the farmer’s half, most goes to expenses — feed, interest, depreciation, equipment, replacement chickens — and only $1.69 per dozen goes to paying the farmer’s wages.
(I’ll post the assumptions and the calculations later, but in this post I want to cut to the chase.)
People can complain about factory farming as much as they like, but until they are willing to pay $10 a dozen for eggs, factory-farmed products are what they’re gonna get. You’ve basically got your choice between factory farms that uses cages and ones that don’t, and factory farms that are organically certified and ones that aren’t.
If you buy ’em in the city, non-factory-farmed eggs are gonna cost you ten bucks. Activism will have no effect on this whatever. Farmers deserve to get paid, and so do the wholesalers and retailers. Real free-range eggs are expensive to raise. Nothing real will happen until enough people put their money where their mouth is. Ten bucks a dozen.