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Pilgrim’s Pride agrees to sell

March 20, 2009

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said Pilgrim’s Pride has agreed to sell its poultry interests centered in Farmerville to California-based Foster Farms for $80 million.

Pilgrim’s Pride filed for bankruptcy protection in December 2008 and announced on February 27 that it would close its Farmerville poultry processing plant and lay off nearly 1,300 employees.  

An additional 300 independent contract growers who raise chickens to market size would have been drastically affected by the plant closure.

Strain praised the efforts of Governor Bobby Jindal and the Office of Economic Development.
“Governor Jindal and his staff worked day and night to put this deal together,” Strain said. “I’m sure I am speaking on behalf of the hundreds of Louisiana farmers and all of the employees who would have lost their livelihoods when I say thank you, Governor.
“The Department of Agriculture and Forestry will do all it can to insure the success of Foster Farms and maintain a healthy business climate for the poultry industry in Louisiana.”
The deal calls for the state and Foster Farms to each put up $40 million.
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.
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.