JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — In an effort to help lower the price of eggs, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed called for a federal investigation into possible price gouging.

Reed recently sent letters to the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission, asking the agencies to take a closer look at the country’s largest egg companies.

“At a time when food prices are high and many Americans are struggling to afford their groceries, we must examine the industry’s role in perpetuating high prices and hold those responsible accountable for their actions,” Reed wrote.

“Some of the big businesses raised prices 138%. Outrageous,” he said while visiting Baffoni’s Poultry Farm in Johnston on Monday.

In his letters, Reed cited data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics which shows the price of a dozen eggs was up 138% in December 2022 compared to December 2021.

“Customers in my home state of Rhode Island paid $5.10 for a dozen eggs in December 2022 on average, according to Instacart,” Reed’s letter continued.

In December, the average price of a dozen eggs in the U.S. was $4.25. more than twice what they cost a year earlier.

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service indicates egg prices have declined by about 50% from their high the week of Dec. 18.

Poultry farmer Adam Baffoni said his family’s farm acknowledged egg prices have had to increase some over the years.

“But we’ve been able to keep them as low as we can, I mean, we really try hard to be fair,” Baffoni said.

“We’re lucky enough that because we’re in a region where there aren’t as many farms around, and because we’ve been very careful, we haven’t had any problems with the avian influenza,” he added.

The farm is owned by 12 News reporter Anita Baffoni’s family.

Reed praised small Rhode Island farms like Baffoni’s for keeping prices stable, saying that dominant egg producers and distributors need to restore fairness in the market.

Reed emphasized that while things like avian flu and inflation are real problems, the surge in egg prices still doesn’t add up, which is why he asked the FTC and DOJ to look into the issue.

“Ask them to look at these large agro-businesses to see if, in fact, they are suppressing production to keep prices up to benefit not the customer, but their stockholders,” Reed explained.