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Governor touts ag importance

Lead Summary

 If Gov. Terry Branstad decides to give up politics, he may have a future as a spokesman for the egg industry.Branstad toured Sparboe Foods in New Hampton on Friday afternoon, and give the six-term Republican credit, he knows how to sell egg products.“They’re a great source of protein at a very reasonable price,” he said. “You can’t beat a good egg.”As he talked, the president of the company, Beth Schnell couldn’t help but smile.“We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves, governor,” Schnell said.Branstad stopped in New Hampton during a daylong swing through northern Iowa, and he talked about the importance of agriculture to the state economy.“I can go on and on about how important it is,” he said, “but one of the reasons it is so critical to Iowa is we have great companies and facilities like this one here at Sparboe.”Sparboe officials shared a number of details about their company with the governor.“Our big thing, and our big thing for the past 60 years, has been to provide high quality products,” Schnell said. “And we know it’s important to give back to our communities.”She shared with the governor several ways Sparboe “gives back,” including the annual donation of more than 100,000 eggs to non-profit groups.Branstad said he was also impressed with the commitment to food safety Sparboe has.“We take it seriously, and we’re committed to providing quality and safe products to our customers,” said Jason Duggan, the plant’s safety manager. “We have strict rules in place and we follow them.”Sparboe employs about 165 people in New Hampton, and Branstad reminisced that he, along with current New Hampton Economic Development Director Tammy Robinson, had visited the plant long ago, when it was still owned and operated by Sara Lee.“We’re kind of dating ourselves a little,” he said to Robinson with a laugh before looking at Schnell, “but in all seriousness, it’s great to see you folks here.”The governor touched on the Avian Flu crisis that hit the state in 2015 and said the state is still feeling the effects of the epidemic.“Our revenue forecast dropped $46 million between December and March,” he said, “and that was in part because of what we dealt with last year.”But he also took heart when Sparboe officials talked about how they were able to help out companies with products.“That is what makes Iowa work,” he said. “We step in and we do the right thing.”   

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