No. No, he is not. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, is not causing an egg shortage to sell you fake eggs.
But that’s one of the online conspiracy theories about the soaring price of eggs and, more, the sudden drop in production.
“Bill Gates Invested In Artificial Eggs a Decade Before Egg Shortage,” one website reported last month. Ah, playing the long game by waiting 10 years. He’s smart, that Gates.
Politifact looked into the claim, noting that in the last 10 years, Gates has invested in multiple faux food companies, including Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. And since 2020, Gates has “held the title of the nation’s largest private farmland owner,” owning nearly 250,000 acres of farmland across more than a dozen states.
“There is no evidence these investments are linked to a nationwide shortage in chicken and egg products,” Politifact wrote.
But remember, Politifact leans left, as noted by All Sides, which rates the bias of outlets. And also, remember that when President Barack Obama said in 2009, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” Politifact said, “his description of his plan is accurate, and we rate his statement True.”
In 2013, the fact-checking group finally admitted what we all knew, deeming Obama’s statement it’s “Lie Of The Year,” Forbes reported. So, shakerful of salt, people.
There are other claims about lower egg production, including posts on social media from backyard chicken owners who say their hens are laying fewer eggs — or none at all.
After a previous piece I wrote about eggs, Belinda Woodruff of Makin Magic Ranch in Weatherford, Texas, dropped me a line.
“I raise chickens and for quite a few months they haven’t been laying. They usually slow down in winter, but I have a couple of breeds that lay pretty much all year and even they stopped,” she said. “I watched a video recently of someone else whose chickens stopped laying. Then I find out there’s hundreds of videos from all over on TikTok whose chickens have also stopped laying.”
“Also there’s a shortage of eggs in the stores. Why doesn’t some lab test the chicken feed to see what’s going on? I believe it’s all on purpose. The only chickens I have laying right now are the few that I let run around loose in three fenced yard around my house. I have a 10 acre ranch,” Woodruff wrote.
Well, Politifact looked into this, too.
“There is no evidence that commercial feed is being sabotaged to negatively impact the number of eggs that backyard hens are laying, multiple experts said.”
The fact-checking site also said, “Tractor Supply and other major feed suppliers targeted by these claims confirmed that they haven’t changed their formulas. … We rate this False.”
Still, Woodruff’s story is intriguing. She’s seen firsthand that chickens are producing fewer eggs. So, how to explain that? “Experts we spoke with cited a variety of factors that may hinder backyard hens from laying eggs, including improper nutrition, infection and stress,” Politifact wrote.
Yes, life in 2023 is pretty stressful, but are all the chickens really stressed out? Doesn’t seem all that plausible.
Here’s a fact that doesn’t need to be checked. The average price for large Grade A eggs was $4.25 a dozen in December, up from $1.79 exactly a year earlier, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. By the way, a dozen eggs cost just $1.33 in August 2020.
Megan McArdle, a Washington Post columnist and the author of “The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success,” worked some magic mathematics of her own. Unlike President Joe Biden, she did not blame “Putin’s price hike” but explained that chickens have gotten sick, and that’s leading to the higher price.
“The truth is that U.S. egg production is still recovering from a bout of avian flu that has devastated flocks in the United States and Europe,” she wrote. “And while activists and senators are puzzled by how a 29 percent decline in egg production can lead to a much larger increase in the price of eggs, agricultural economist Jayson Lusk says that’s exactly what you would expect with a product for which demand is relatively insensitive to price changes.”
But Farm Action, a farmer advocacy group, has a whole different theory for the price hike. The group says the “real culprit” behind sky-high prices is a “collusive scheme” among top U.S. egg producers to fix prices to gouge consumers.
In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last month, Farm Action said the alleged collusion has helped egg producers to “extract egregious profits reaching as high as 40%.”
And the letter said avian flu is not to blame.
“Examining publicly-available financial data from the egg industry, the letter determines that the supply disruption caused by the avian flu outbreak had an ‘apparently mild impact on the industry,’” the group said in a press release.
Plus, the group said egg producers like Cal-Maine are making money hand over fist.
“For the 26-week period ending on November 26, 2022, Cal-Maine reported a ten-fold year-over-year increase in gross profits — from $50.392 million to $535.339 million — and a five-fold increase in its gross margins,” the letter said.
And the group says, “the real culprit behind this 138 percent hike in the price of a carton of eggs appears to be a collusive scheme among industry leaders to turn inflationary conditions and an avian flu outbreak into an opportunity to extract egregious profits reaching as high as 40 percent.”
“In the end, what Cal-Maine Foods and the other large egg producers did last year — and seem to be intent on doing again this year — is extort billions of dollars from the pockets of ordinary Americans through what amounts to a tax on a staple we all need: eggs,” the letter said. “They did so without any legitimate business justification. They did so because there is no ‘reasonable substitute’ for a carton of eggs. They did so because they had power and weren’t afraid to use it.”
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.