SUWANEE - The Georgia Egg Commission is closing its doors after 52 years.
Every three years, Georgia egg producers who fund the commission hold a referendum. In order to keep the commission running, two-thirds of the producers must vote to extend the life of the program. On April 30, according to Georgia Egg Commission President Robert Howell, egg producers voted against operation by a vote of 7-5.
"We began the Georgia Egg Commission in 1961, when a group of egg producers in the state saw a need for promotion, education and research," said Howell. "The egg industry [commission] was one of the first, along with milk, to be established."
Howell said while the Egg Commission has only four staff members, he's most concerned about what the loss will mean to consumers.
"Because the consumer is the one who has benefitted from our program through recipes, educational programs and research," said Howell.
Most notably, he said, the commission was responsible for the refrigeration of eggs in the United States.
"Back in 1994... when our industry felt the need to refrigerate its product and we helped pass a rule that all eggs would be refrigerated from the time they were produced and packed to when they reached their final user, and they had to be refrigerated at 45 degrees. At 45 degrees bacteria is withheld and we always guarantee that way freshness and quality," said Howell.
"It was accepted by the government and shortly thereafter the US Department of Agriculture changed its ruling and now all eggs throughout the entire United States must be refrigerated at 45 degrees or lower and by doing so it does retard the bacteria and assure the freshness of the product."
Howell said he was unsure if Georgia egg producers would seek another entity to assist with promotion of the industry.
While the final decision on a closing date for the program rests with Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, Howell said he believed the commission would cease operation on June 30, the close of the current fiscal year.