Company Specializing in Cage-Free Production Acquires Willamette Egg

Northwest Farms and Proterra Investment Partners has acquired the operations and assets of Willamette Egg Farms in the Pacific Northwest from Michael Foods Inc., a subsidiary of Post Holdings.

Northwest Farms is a newly formed company that includes several egg farming families who also are owners in Versova Management (Versova), according to a press release.

Versova, headquartered in Sioux Center, Iowa, has assumed day-to-day management of Willamette’s egg farms in Canby, Molalla and Moses Lake, Wash. The farms include three egg-laying sites housing more than 3 million hens in production and two feed mills.

The deal is not expected to impact employees in Canby or Molalla. The sale closed December 2.

Versova is a family of egg production companies with farms in Iowa and Ohio. Versova Management provides shared services and operational oversight for farms including Iowa Cage-Free, Centrum Valley Farms, Center Fresh Group, Hawkeye Pride and Sioux County Egg Farm, all in Iowa, and Trillium Farms in Ohio.

Versova plans to manage and market Willamette’s cage-free, conventional, organic and specialty eggs produced in Oregon and initiate an expansion of those operations. Photo courtesy Versova Management.

In August 2021, Versova also acquired the assets of Rembrandt Foods’ Thompson, Iow, cage-free farm, now called Ovation Farms.

“Versova has been producing cage-free and specialty eggs for more than a decade, and we have been intentional about reinvesting in our business and increasing our capacity in those areas to meet growing demand,” Versova President said J.T. Dean said in the release. “Proterra’s investment in this defined growth allows us to accelerate and be more efficient in reaching those goals.

“There are dramatic changes coming in U.S. egg production, including customer-set deadlines to transition to cage-free, as well as state law changes regarding hen housing. We want to secure our position to maintain our strong and stable supply of the eggs our customers want now and in the future.”

Proterra is an alternative investment manager focused on private capital investments in the natural resources sectors of agriculture, food, and metals and mining, with nearly $4 billion in assets under management.

Versova plans to manage and market Willamette’s cage-free, conventional, organic and specialty eggs produced in Oregon and initiate an expansion of those operations. The Washington farm location at Moses Lake, which currently raises hens in conventional cage housing, will be converted to cage-free housing.

Willamette Egg and its parent companies donated more than 65,000 pounds of food to needy families in Canby and the surrounding areas at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in April 2020. File photo.

Willamette Egg Farms began in the Willamette Valley in 1934 with history as a third-generation, family-owned farm. The Satrum and Cunningham families, which operated the farms prior to the sale to Michael Foods Inc., remain in Oregon.

“We are pleased that the farms will return to private ownership and be managed by families with deep roots in egg production,” said Greg Satrum. “This is good news for Oregon and Washington and for the local communities where our farms operate.”

“Proterra and Versova are aligned on what’s important — addressing global food demand through responsible, large-scale agriculture — and doing so in a way that is consistent with the values and principles ingrained in our companies and that ensures we can be a strong partner and contributor where our farms operate,” said Dean.

“Without question, the future of egg production will require this kind of investment and vision to maintain an abundant, affordable supply of nutritious eggs; to meet changing customer and consumer expectations; and to provide jobs and economic value in local communities.”

Willamette employees will remain with the farms. Versova’s operational structure includes robust hen welfare and egg safety practices, environmental compliance, sustainability and team member care. Versova has two full-time, on-staff veterinarians who oversee the company’s stringent hen health and well-being programs.

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