Boston's Morning Newsletter
Local farmers and lawmakers scramble over high egg prices
Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here.
Good morning, Boston! Well, it's maybe not the best morning for those taking the commuter rail.
A downed power line is causing major delays on the Franklin-Foxboro and the Providence-Stoughton Lines, according to the MBTA. Because of this, trains on those lines are bypassing Hyde Park, Ruggles and Back Bay stations. Some Amtrak trains in and out of the city are seeing delays, too. Plan accordingly, and stay warm out there (yes, winter is back this morning).
Now, let's get into some local news:
Omelets for breakfast? In this economy?! Egg prices have skyrocketed and consumers aren't the only ones feeling the pinch. Small farmers in Massachusetts say they are struggling to deal with global problems like inflation and the avian flu, both of which have caused egg prices to rise.
- Zoom in: Susan Murray, the director of the nonprofit Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership and owner of Dartmouth's Flying Carrot Farm, told WBUR's John Bender that she's seen a 30% increase in prices overall on her farm. "Whether it's the egg production or the vegetables," Murray added. "And we can only raise our prices so much."
- Zoom out: Though prices are coming down compared to earlier this year, overall your breakfast protein is still much more costly than it has been in years past. In December, the average price for a dozen eggs was $4.25, compared with the $1.51 they cost in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Why such a big jump, still? Inflation has driven up the cost of feed, transportation and labor, and the flu has resulted in about 58 million bird deaths and culling.
- Taking it to Washington: While small, local farmers are struggling, politicians are less sure about some of the country's largest egg producers. Last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren called on big-ag executives to explain the rising egg prices after Cal-Maine Foods, the largest egg producer in the U.S., announced a 65% increase in profits while reporting no cases of avian flu. Warren and fellow lawmakers sent the letter asking for price transparency to Cal-Maine, which controls about 20% of the retail egg market, Rose Acre Farms, Hillandale Farms, Versova Management and Daybreak Foods.
Northampton City Council voted to form a commission responsible for studying possible reparations for Black residents, mirroring similar actions taken in Boston and Amherst.
- There are two important parts of the resolution. The first is that the city apologized for its past decisions in areas like housing and licensing — processes that are known to be inherently discriminatory. The second is that the council gave the new commission the ability to not only study reparations, but also what initiatives should be funded to redress those harms and support Black community and culture.
- What's next: Outlines of the commission's responsibility, composition and deadlines are expected to be ready by March 30.
"I'm the Captain now": With Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll both out of state for family February vacation plans, Sec. of State William Galvin is serving as acting governor until Thursday night.
- The longtime veteran of Beacon Hill will likely have a quiet week, though; it's a common one for even political families to travel. But, when Healey's back, it will get busy again soon. Her first budget and tax package should be coming by March 1.
- Also out of state: Congressman Jake Auchincloss. He's in Taiwan this morning with a group of U.S. lawmakers meeting with the country's president, Tsai Ing-wen. She promised to deepen military cooperation between the two countries as a result of the meeting.
P.S.— Brian Stelter, the former chief media correspondent for CNN and host of “Reliable Sources," will be at WBUR CitySpace tonight. He'll be speaking with Here & Now host Scott Tong at 7 p.m. about the state of the information ecosystem and its impacts on democracy. It should be a lively conversation! Tickets are still available here.