Egg Farmer at White House Easter Egg Roll: Business Is Up from ‘Really Bad’ Two Years Ago

arial-view Easter Egg Roll
Washington, DC

American Egg Board member Bruce Dooyema stood on the White House south lawn during Monday’s annual Easter Egg Roll, giving reporters insight into the positive surge in egg business from a “really bad” time two years ago.

Business for egg farming is “very good” these days, much better than when it was “really bad” about two years ago when prices were low, according to Dooyema, who has been working on his family’s farm, Center Fresh Egg in Sioux Center, Iowa, since graduating high school.

“Right now we’re enjoying one of the best times in the egg industry as far as prices goes,” said Dooyema, who attributed the change to increased demand.

Demand for eggs was about 250 eggs per person annually around two years ago but has risen to 279 currently, according to Dooyema. This falls roughly in line with data published by statistic.com and was provided in American Egg Board materials available at the Easter Egg Roll event. He predicted that the trend is on track to see annual, per person egg consumption climb another four to five in the year ahead.

Why do people want more eggs? Dooyema said, “It’s a cheap source of protein” and that the scientific community is recognizing “the true benefits of eggs. It’s got choline, lutein, zeaxanthin … it’s very important for fetal brain development.” He added that there are studies showing eggs are also great for older individuals battling Alzheimer’s.

Center Fresh Egg Farm participates in providing an egg a day to school children in Mozambique, Africa. Dooyema recalled traveling there and seeing a child eat an egg for the first time. He said the children had never seen an egg before and tried to eat the shell along with the hardboiled egg inside before being taught not to.

U.S. egg exports have been growing with the presence of bird flu in other countries and since the U.S. saw the disease back in 2015, said Dooyema. Hong Kong, Mexico, and Canada are among the most prevalent importers of U.S. eggs. He added that NAFTA doesn’t significantly affect egg exports. U.S. egg farmers are primarily concerned with domestic egg sales.

Asked about the regulatory environment for egg farmers, Dooyema said that “The paperwork that’s involved nowadays is just incredible compared to 10, 15, even five years ago.” He called the level of documentation required to comply with rules and regulations is “unmanageable.” As the Trump administration has emphasized government deregulation, egg farming is not one of the areas that has seen a piece of that deregulation, according to the egg farmer.

“Nowadays it’s all about protecting your business and not being involved in a lawsuit,” said Dooyema who named this as a more pressing issue than deregulation. “The more documentation you have, the less chance of something coming back on you.” He mentioned “traceback” as a pressing issue. Farming operations face liability when someone gets sick from a product and it can be traced back to a particular farm.

The American Egg Board has been providing eggs for the Easter Egg Roll for 40 years. They donated 30,000 hard boiled eggs for Monday’s celebration.

Dooyema particularly appreciated the military families at the Easter Egg Roll,:“It’s just incredible to see, it’s just big happy family here.” He also drew attention to a virtual reality hen house as part of the Easter Egg Roll event activities. He added that it’s only now under the Trump administration that Egg Board members have been allowed to attend the event. “Under the Trump administration, it’s really opened up to the egg farmer … you’ve probably seen a big change from the Obama administration to the Trump administration as far as now it’s kind of a family affair and it’s not a big production and a glitzy, glamour … it’s a lot of family here now I think, compared to the past.”

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