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California poultry operation makes offer on closed Pilgrim’s Pride plant

March 10, 2009

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said the state has received a firm offer from a California poultry operation to purchase the Pilgrim’s Pride closed plant in Farmerville.

Strain notified Union Parish officials via e-mail Tuesday night that Foster Farms, a family-owned operation since 1939 with more than 10,000 employees, has offered $40 million to purchase the plant.

Strain, along with Governor Bobby Jindal and the Office of Economic Development, brokered the deal that would include “major incentives” from the state.

“I am very hopeful we can push this agreement through,” Strain said. “It will be a blessing to the poultry farmers in northeast Louisiana and all the families and ancillary businesses that rely on the poultry industry.”

Foster Farms, located in Livingston, Calif., owns and operates hatcheries, grow-out ranches, feed mills, processing plants and delivery systems. Their product mix includes fresh chicken, fresh turkey, cooked frozen chicken, turkey, individually frozen chicken and other items. It has operations in California, Oregon, Washington, Alabama, Colorado and Arkansas.

Pilgrim’s Pride announced on February 27 that it would close its Farmerville poultry processing plant and will lay off about 1,294 employees.  
Also affected by the closure are 300 independent contract growers who raise chickens to market size, a hatchery in Athens, a hatchery and live operations office in Choudrant and a feed mill in Arcadia.

According to the 2007 Louisiana Summary compiled by the LSU AgCenter, poultry production is the largest animal agricultural industry in the state and is second only to forestry in total income production for all agricultural commodities.
In 2007, 460 Louisiana growers produced 1.06 billion pounds of broiler meat with a gross value of $795 million.
The gross value for all poultry production in Louisiana was $884.1 million in 2007. The total value of poultry production in the state was $1.733 billion.