One segment of agriculture that has used science and technology to increase production, increase efficiency, and improve its product is the egg industry. Yet as the industry is losing the battle to improve its image, Indiana has become a major egg producing state due in part to egg producers adopting new technology and increasing production. Bob Krouse, with Midwest Poultry Services in Kosciusko County, said the egg industry has been a leader in traceability and food safety.
“Every egg we produce has our farm number on it, and we can recall every egg we have produced in the past 3 months in a little as 2 hours.”
He noted the industry has also been innovative in improving the health and working conditions in poultry houses and improving the health and living conditions of the birds it raises. Yet, he admitted most consumers don’t understand that which remains a challenge for egg producers.
“We need to listen to our consumers and be mindful of what they want and, at the same time, try and help them understand that, if what they want is not truly better for our birds or for sustainability, they we need to find a way to tell them what our experience is,” he stated.
The industry is under pressure to adopt more cage-free housing, but Krouse says cage-free is not really better for birds and will not let the industry meet the increasing demand for eggs.
“I have wondered for a long time, when we talk about sustainability, when are the adults going to come into the room,” he said. “We are headed toward 9 billion people. We are going to need twice as much food. We can’t be going backwards on productivity.”
Cage-free systems are less productive, less healthy for the birds, and result in a shorter life span. He added that he wishes he could bring consumers onto his farm to see first-hand how eggs are produced and processed.