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A study of variations in egg production in British Columbia, 1943-1951 Herring, Stephen Harold Edward

Abstract

The commercial egg industry in British Columbia is the sixth largest in Canada. It provides about ten percent of the total farm income. About 85 percent of all British Columbia eggs are produced in the Lower Mainland, 10 percent on the east coast of Vancouver Island, and about five percent in the interior of British Columbia. The export market between 1940 and 1949 created favorable conditions for expansion of the industry. To meet export demands, the Canada wartime government promoted and facilitated production through agencies concerned with extension, prices, subsidies and standards. After the loss of the British egg contract in January, 1949 exports dropped. Imports increased during this period because of storage space shortage on the prairies and price differentials between British Columbia and the prairies. The British egg contracts supplied the equivalent of a floor price at wholesale level until January 31 1949. The Canada government, in January, 1950, included eggs in its Support Price Policy to assist farmers in adjustment from wartime, conditions. Analyses of data gathered for the period from 1943 to 1951 show that great annual and cyclical variations exist in the commercial egg industry of British Columbia. An annual average marketing peak occurred in January with the low marketing month in July. Egg prices reciprocated with, an average yearly peak in July end a lowpoint in January. Egg prices were higher in the former half of the year, on the average, than in the latter half, while feed prices were higher in the first half and lower in the second half. Excess capacity increased greatly after termination of the British egg contracts in 1949. The annual egg-feed ratio, as an indicator of profitability, seems to move with the annual returns to capital and labour. The monthly ratio seems to precede the marketings by some months. An increased guaranteed minimum income over that supplied by the present floor price will decrease excess capacity and increase the number of farmers whose return to capital and labour is more than the point of disinvestment. The problem of what the minimum guaranteed income should be is considered through a reconsideration of the floor price using producer criteria. The 1951 costs of production are combined with the annual receipts from fowl and eggs of a sample British Columbia poultry farm to give a scale of returns to capital and labour, under incremental increases in egg and fowl prices. Normal perquisites decrease the cash Income necessary to give a fair return to operator's labour as based on the average annual wage for farm labour without board.

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