Egg production is big business in Iowa.
The Hawkeye State has more than 50 major egg producers. The state's nearly 60 million layers generate a remarkable 14.4 billion eggs each year, making Iowa the No. 1 egg-producing state in the nation.
The Iowa egg industry is a big purchaser of Iowa's other agricultural products. The state's layers consume 57 million bushels of corn and 28.5 million bushels of soybeans every year.
This industry also contributes mightily to a positive employment picture in Iowa. According to the Iowa Egg Council, egg producers are responsible for about 8,000 jobs that generate $424 million each year in income for employees and $19.3 million annually in general tax revenues for the state.
Iowa, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and California are the top five egg-producing states in the United States. Together, they account for 50 percent of this country's egg production. In the nation as a whole, some 300 million egg-laying hens generate well over 200 million cases of shell eggs per year.
Americans don't eat as many eggs as they once did. Even so, eggs remain a popular food choice and consumer demand remains high. Per capita egg consumption was 402 eggs per year at its high point in 1945. Today it's in the neighborhood of 250 eggs per person each year and has been holding fairly constant in recent years.
Most of the nation's egg production goes toward meeting that demand, but egg producers also make a positive contribution to our nation's export economy. U.S. eggs and egg products are sold worldwide.
May is National Egg Month. The next time you consume this tasty product, enjoy the moment but reflect also on the egg industry's importance to Iowa.
This editorial appeared in the May 11 edition of the Fort Dodge Messenger.