JACK’S BACK: Maine’s Egg King in the National News; Austin J. Decoster = Jack

Calico Lobster

Rare Calico Lobster Temporarily Residng at Portland Lobster Co.

By Carol McCracken (Post # 562)

JACK’S BACK: And this time Austin J. Decoster, made the front page of the “New York Times” today. That’s not easy to do. Jack is either a hero or a villan or maybe just a curiousity because of a long history of violations in Maine’s egg industry; well-documented abuses of chickens as well as farm workers. That’s what it takes to get on the front page of this national newspaper.

The Decoster egg company was linked to the salmonella outbreak in an egg farm in Clarion, Iowa – which has resulted in a major egg recall previously reported in post # 561 herein, earlier today. One of Decoster’s companies, Quality Egg Supp., is one of two companies that sells young chickens and feed to one of the farms to which the salmonella outbreak has been linked. This is the same Decoster who currently is one of the owners of a 1,400 acre egg farm in Turner. Mainers know that Jack often made the late 70’s- 80’s local news because of the violations in the managment of the egg farm. The farm has a long litany of serious violations for which the company has been mildly fined.

Fortunately, it was reported in “The Boston Globe” that no signs of salmonella were found at the Maine farm. MHN.com was unable to determine today under what brand name eggs from the Turner farm are sold here in Maine. Jack sells eggs in Maine under a company called – Maine Contract Farming. He was considered the largest producer of brown eggs in the world. At one time, his Turner operation did about $60 million in business a year.

For many years the egg and chicken business was a major industry in Maine. At one time, Maine’s $88 million poultry industry ranked Tenth in the country. It brought in more money than lobstering and fishing combined. Back in the 60’s there were more than 400 Maine egg producers in Maine. High transportation costs and heating costs were among the reasons that brought the business to a standstill in the late 70’s. Jack has thrived. He moved on to Iowa – where laws were more relaxed and officials looked the other way cause they needed the tax revenues. Because of Jack, laws in Maine have become much more stringent than they once were.

The US government has called for a hearing on September 14 to which Decoster has been invited, although he need not attend. Maybe we will learn more then.