Sunrise Farms filed a lawsuit against companies hired by the federal government to depopulate and disinfect its property after highly pathogenic avian influenza was detected at its facility near Harris, Iowa, in 2015.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) contracted Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Sabre Energy Services and KDF Enterprises, while Clean Harbors hired six subcontractors to do the needed jobs to enable the company to eventually repopulate the egg company’s facility.

However, Sunrise Farms, a division of Sonstegard Food Group, alleges that the defendant companies “significantly damaged and impaired property,” and those damages “required extensive corrective repairs and labor.” Sunrise also claimed the defendants were negligent and breached their contracts, according to a report.

Sunrise Farms seeks to be fully compensated for its losses, interest, accrued late charges and the cost of its lawsuit.


The lawsuit was first filed in Osceola County District Court, Sibley, Iowa. However, the case was moved to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa in March. A jury trial has been set for January 2020 in Sioux City.

In separate legal action, Clean Harbors Environmental Services sued each of the six companies with which it subcontracted.

While Minnesota had the most confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza during the 2014-15 outbreak, it was Iowa that had the most birds affected. Nearly 32 million birds in Iowa were lost between April 19 and June 17, 2015.

Sunrise Farms, according to the WATTAgNet Top Poultry Companies Database, is the 23rd largest egg company in the United States. At the conclusion of 2018, the Sunrise Farms had a flock of 4.1 million hens. Parent company Sonstegard Food Group is a third-generation, family owned company with operations in six states. It produces and markets shell eggs, as well as liquid, frozen and powered egg products.