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Political Mercury

Branstad egg-cited about modern Iowa agriculture


Over-hard or scrambled.

That’s how the governor likes his eggs — which are part of his breakfast diet one or two days a week, he says.

Gov. Terry Branstad talked about his own taste for eggs at the end of an hour-long tour of Rose Acre Farms outside Guthrie Center recently. The facility, which houses 1.6 million chickens, produces about 1.5 million eggs a day — enough to satisfy shoppers at Hy-Vee and Fareway and other stores that carry the eggs from the veteran family-owned business.

Rose Acre Farms Guthrie Center plant manager John Knobbe (left) speaks with Gov. Terry Branstad during a tour of the facility.

Rose Acre Farms Guthrie Center plant manager John Knobbe (left) speaks with Gov. Terry Branstad during a tour of the facility.

Mike Clayton, regional manager for Rose Acre Farms, says solid publicity for eggs is spiking demand.

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“It has the good cholesterol in it,” he said.

The Guthrie Center Rose Acre, capable of producing shelled eggs and powdered, employs 120 people.

“It’s pretty impressive, all the things that go into it,” Branstad said.

There are two other Rose Acre locations nearby, one in Stuart and the other in Winterset. In total, Rose Acre employs 300 people in Iowa, 1,500 nationally in 17 plants.

“We’ve been constantly growing as a company and evolving,” said John Knobbe, Guthrie Center plant manager.

Branstad, who was joined by Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds on the tour, said Rose Acre Farms fits into an overall bright picture of Iowa agriculture. It provides another market for corn products. Branstad, who checks with an ethanol-plant manager friend daily on the price of corn, said farmers in Iowa can obtain higher prices at places like Rose Acre or renewable-energy facilities or cooperatives than are showing on the Chicago Board of Trade.

“That was unheard of in the old days because of transportation costs,” Branstad said.

In the past, grain farmers had limited choices for markets, he said.

“We’ve done better than some other states because of the strength of agriculture,” Branstad said.

Branstad, a frequent critic of government and regulatory structure in California, said that state is a major market for Iowa eggs. Iowa has joined a lawsuit led by Missouri challenging a California law, set to go into effect in 2015, that would require larger cages for hens producing eggs sold in California — even if the eggs are laid in other states.

Iowa’s Republican governor, echoing the arguments of Missouri’s Democratic attorney general, says the California law would violate the interstate commerce protections in the U.S. Constitution.

“It’s one thing if they want to restrict what their own farmers can do,” Branstad said.

burns doug 12-10-25Rose Acre Farms does offer cage-free eggs in its roster of products. CV

Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who writes for The Carroll Daily Times Herald and offers columns for Cityview.

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