Egg-actly What is Corporate Farming? An Easter Special

With Easter week upon us, cultures around the world will include eggs in some form of their Holy Week celebrations and decor. Many people use dye to colorfully decorate eggs. My mom will be baking egg casseroles for our church’s Easter brunch, and little kiddos will hunt for Easter eggs. Many of us take for granted all the effort that goes into getting those eggs into the hands of consumers.

This week, my Dordt College animal science class was denied a tour of the Center Fresh Egg Farm near Sioux Center, Iowa. The reason? All U.S. poultry/egg production facilities are currently fighting a biosecurity war against a virulent strain of avian influenza called H5N2. Center Fresh part-owner Bruce Dooyema and facility manager Mark Van Oordt were kind enough to drive us by the site of production and give us an in-classroom presentation about the egg industry.


Aerial view of the Sioux Center site

Learning about Center Fresh Farms inspired and amazed me. I have a newfound respect for the egg production industry after seeing how much intense management occurs to keep 30 million hens and 6 million pullets (young hens) in the business of keeping up with the world’s egg consumption.

Many consumers have a few preconceived notions regarding the egg industry. After hearing firsthand the way Center Fresh farm operates, I would like to debunk one such myth: that corporate farming is always bad because it snuffs out small, family farms.

A sharp-minded, graying gentleman, Bruce Dooyema owns one tenth of the Center Fresh operation. He shared with the class the story of how his dad started out with a small dairy and some hogs at the site where Center Fresh now sprawls across 60 acres. With a chuckle, Dooyema recounted his first experience with chickens—receiving 24 broiler chicks as a young boy.

Eventually, Dooyema’s father traded his dairy cows and pigs for laying hens, and together, Bruce, his older brother, and his father established Center Fresh Egg Farms in 1978. The operation quickly grew and flourished. To date, Center Fresh Group is one of the largest egg producers in the nation, with locations in Iowa, Ohio, and Mozambique, Africa. Over 200 employees work at the Sioux Center facility alone.

While Center Fresh is classified as a corporate farm, Dooyema explained that ten individual farm families own this so-called corporation. What began as a father and two sons is still family-owned and operated, just on a much larger scale. In the case of the poultry industry, large scale egg production is the most streamlined and economically successful means to supporting both producers and consumers.

Hopefully now you have a little better understanding of where your Easter eggs come. May you have a blessed Easter celebrating the resurrection of Christ!

Center Fresh


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