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Will high egg prices relax San Diego's poultry raising rules?

Eggs a hot commodity in food exchanges

Jax as baby. Animal control gave Hahn 24 hours to remove Jax.
Jax as baby. Animal control gave Hahn 24 hours to remove Jax.

On January 6, prices of large white eggs in cartons dropped from $7.50 per dozen to $7.37 per dozen in California, according to the USDA site.

But even at those high prices, Ashley Hahn noticed an egg shortage by her Lakeside home. As she reached out to her fellow rural and livestock buddies on Facebook, she noticed different supermarkets throughout San Diego County had empty egg shelves and posted the photos online. Brittany P. said, "check Instacart; it shows sold-out eggs from lots of places. Celeste S. added, "Today at WinCo in San Marcos, if you bought more than one package of eggs, the price went up $5 more a carton."

As a breeder for The Livestock Conservancy, which helps bring back the population of threatened and endangered birds, Hahn seems a natural to come up with solutions regarding the egg shortage, double-triple egg price increases, and penalty fees for purchasing more than one egg carton.

Jax as adult rooster. Hahn calculated that using two roosters in her flock at her house, she would have about 60 fertilized eggs per week.

Hahn began by going straight to the top. "I spoke to the California U.S. Department of Agriculture, and [they said] we were down 15 million eggs in December from the year before."

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According to the USDA, the decrease in eggs was due to the bird flu outbreak which happened over a year ago, affecting more than 57 million birds in backyard and commercial flocks.

Hahn wrote county supervisor Joel Andersons's office, advocating for the legal allowance of more poultry per property for all those allowed to have poultry in San Diego County.

Hahn said to me in a January 22 interview that she is only allowed to raise 25 animals total within her 1/3 acre property in Lakeside. And if one of her hens lays a single egg, the inspectors can come by and fine her. Per the County of San Diego's Code Enforcement, she's allowed one rooster for the size of her property. But someone in her neighborhood recently called the county's animal services on her. And animal services says she can't have a rooster because "the new ordinance that went through in 2018 says it cannot be within 150 feet of a neighboring resident."

"There has been a large increase in the volume of prohibited food items, such as raw eggs and raw poultry meat, brought by travelers from Mexico."

Like other San Diego County inhabitants, Hahn can no longer breed chickens on her property. "When I had one rooster, I switched my rooster out every few days to be able to fertilize my flocks. So now I have to keep all the roosters off my property, move a ton of coops, and run there to keep my programs going."

On January 18, animal control gave Hahn 24 hours to remove Jax, her rooster, from her property, "or I would face a fine," she said. "I’m praying they are not going around removing roosters and giving people fines. San Diego’s poultry zoning ordinances are outdated and do not accommodate raising enough chickens to feed your family."

As San Diegans are hit by inflation and rent hikes, those even within the city limits, have reverted to growing small farms and raising hens and roosters. They cross their fingers a Karen won't call the poultry police. Many who produce their own fare swap with other folks, and eggs are a hot commodity in the food exchange community.

Other San Diegans are smuggling eggs from Mexico back into the U.S.

"There has been a large increase in the volume of prohibited food items, such as raw eggs and raw poultry meat, brought by travelers from Mexico," said Jennifer De La O, U.S. Customs and Border Protection director of field operations in San Diego, in a January 20 report. "We would like to remind the traveling public that federal agricultural regulations remain in effect."

The CBP site adds that prohibited items not declared by the drivers and passengers will be confiscated and thrown away by CBP agriculture specialists and that "civil penalties may be assessed for failure to declare prohibited agricultural products and may range up to $1,000 per first-time offense for non-commercial quantities. If the items are determined to be for commercial use, violations will be assessed at a much higher rate."

Back in Lakeside, Hahn wonders, "Why aren’t we advocating for more people to raise food locally and taking the strain off big farm food chains? People in apartments have to buy eggs; they can’t have chickens as they don’t have a yard. Why can’t I raise more chickens and make sure our community is covered? Our elderly are suffering terribly."

Hahn calculated that using two roosters in her flock at her house, she would have about 60 fertilized eggs per week, translating to about 40-50 chicks per week. Therefore, "I can hatch about 40-50 chicks per week to provide to others who also want to raise chickens," she said. "Once they are six months old, about half of those hens will lay about five eggs weekly for their new owners."

But given the current ordinances, Hahn's options are bleak.

A rep from Joel Andersons's office responded to Hahn's request to lift the restrictions on the number of animals on countywide residents' properties. It read in part, "Updates to the Zoning Ordinance to increase the number of animals allowed would require an extensive public input process and environmental review of potential impacts such as noise, odor, and traffic. The changes would require a recommendation by the County of San Diego Planning Commission and approval from the Board of Supervisors at a noted public hearing. This work will require staffing and resources that are currently not planned for."

Hahn concluded, "How long before [San Diegans] eat cat food because their limited income can no longer cover the cheapest and more accessible protein?"

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Jax as baby. Animal control gave Hahn 24 hours to remove Jax.
Jax as baby. Animal control gave Hahn 24 hours to remove Jax.

On January 6, prices of large white eggs in cartons dropped from $7.50 per dozen to $7.37 per dozen in California, according to the USDA site.

But even at those high prices, Ashley Hahn noticed an egg shortage by her Lakeside home. As she reached out to her fellow rural and livestock buddies on Facebook, she noticed different supermarkets throughout San Diego County had empty egg shelves and posted the photos online. Brittany P. said, "check Instacart; it shows sold-out eggs from lots of places. Celeste S. added, "Today at WinCo in San Marcos, if you bought more than one package of eggs, the price went up $5 more a carton."

As a breeder for The Livestock Conservancy, which helps bring back the population of threatened and endangered birds, Hahn seems a natural to come up with solutions regarding the egg shortage, double-triple egg price increases, and penalty fees for purchasing more than one egg carton.

Jax as adult rooster. Hahn calculated that using two roosters in her flock at her house, she would have about 60 fertilized eggs per week.

Hahn began by going straight to the top. "I spoke to the California U.S. Department of Agriculture, and [they said] we were down 15 million eggs in December from the year before."

Sponsored
Sponsored

According to the USDA, the decrease in eggs was due to the bird flu outbreak which happened over a year ago, affecting more than 57 million birds in backyard and commercial flocks.

Hahn wrote county supervisor Joel Andersons's office, advocating for the legal allowance of more poultry per property for all those allowed to have poultry in San Diego County.

Hahn said to me in a January 22 interview that she is only allowed to raise 25 animals total within her 1/3 acre property in Lakeside. And if one of her hens lays a single egg, the inspectors can come by and fine her. Per the County of San Diego's Code Enforcement, she's allowed one rooster for the size of her property. But someone in her neighborhood recently called the county's animal services on her. And animal services says she can't have a rooster because "the new ordinance that went through in 2018 says it cannot be within 150 feet of a neighboring resident."

"There has been a large increase in the volume of prohibited food items, such as raw eggs and raw poultry meat, brought by travelers from Mexico."

Like other San Diego County inhabitants, Hahn can no longer breed chickens on her property. "When I had one rooster, I switched my rooster out every few days to be able to fertilize my flocks. So now I have to keep all the roosters off my property, move a ton of coops, and run there to keep my programs going."

On January 18, animal control gave Hahn 24 hours to remove Jax, her rooster, from her property, "or I would face a fine," she said. "I’m praying they are not going around removing roosters and giving people fines. San Diego’s poultry zoning ordinances are outdated and do not accommodate raising enough chickens to feed your family."

As San Diegans are hit by inflation and rent hikes, those even within the city limits, have reverted to growing small farms and raising hens and roosters. They cross their fingers a Karen won't call the poultry police. Many who produce their own fare swap with other folks, and eggs are a hot commodity in the food exchange community.

Other San Diegans are smuggling eggs from Mexico back into the U.S.

"There has been a large increase in the volume of prohibited food items, such as raw eggs and raw poultry meat, brought by travelers from Mexico," said Jennifer De La O, U.S. Customs and Border Protection director of field operations in San Diego, in a January 20 report. "We would like to remind the traveling public that federal agricultural regulations remain in effect."

The CBP site adds that prohibited items not declared by the drivers and passengers will be confiscated and thrown away by CBP agriculture specialists and that "civil penalties may be assessed for failure to declare prohibited agricultural products and may range up to $1,000 per first-time offense for non-commercial quantities. If the items are determined to be for commercial use, violations will be assessed at a much higher rate."

Back in Lakeside, Hahn wonders, "Why aren’t we advocating for more people to raise food locally and taking the strain off big farm food chains? People in apartments have to buy eggs; they can’t have chickens as they don’t have a yard. Why can’t I raise more chickens and make sure our community is covered? Our elderly are suffering terribly."

Hahn calculated that using two roosters in her flock at her house, she would have about 60 fertilized eggs per week, translating to about 40-50 chicks per week. Therefore, "I can hatch about 40-50 chicks per week to provide to others who also want to raise chickens," she said. "Once they are six months old, about half of those hens will lay about five eggs weekly for their new owners."

But given the current ordinances, Hahn's options are bleak.

A rep from Joel Andersons's office responded to Hahn's request to lift the restrictions on the number of animals on countywide residents' properties. It read in part, "Updates to the Zoning Ordinance to increase the number of animals allowed would require an extensive public input process and environmental review of potential impacts such as noise, odor, and traffic. The changes would require a recommendation by the County of San Diego Planning Commission and approval from the Board of Supervisors at a noted public hearing. This work will require staffing and resources that are currently not planned for."

Hahn concluded, "How long before [San Diegans] eat cat food because their limited income can no longer cover the cheapest and more accessible protein?"

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