Sanderson Farms changes plans for 2nd N.C. plant

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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LAUREL, Miss. – Sanderson Farms Inc. announced Nov. 13 that Nash County, NC will no longer be the site for its new poultry processing complex after all.

Making this decision together with the officials of Nash County as a result of various timing issues, Sanderson Farms had previously announced sites in Nash County had been selected for the location of a new poultry processing complex subject to various contingencies. The company further announced construction of the new complex remains on hold pending improvement in market fundamentals, including the supply and price of corn and other feed grains.

“While we are disappointed that Nash County will no longer be considered for this project, we understand the need for certainty with respect to Sanderson Farms’ ability to move forward with construction in a timely manner once the other contingencies are met,” said Robby Davis, a member of the Nash County Board of Commissioners who was responsible for recruiting Sanderson Farms to the area. “Unfortunately, various legal challenges will not allow us to meet Sanderson Farms’ schedule without the possibility of delay. We are grateful for the very professional manner in which Sanderson Farms has negotiated with our board and staff during the entire process.”

“We very much appreciate the hard work of everyone in Nash County who worked diligently to recruit us to the area,” added Joe F. Sanderson Jr., chairman and CEO of Sanderson Farms Inc. “We also appreciate the support of the local community and the business and political leaders who welcomed us to Nash County. We remain committed to our growth strategy and, toward that end, have been evaluating and will continue to pursue alternative locations that will enable us to continue our pattern of steady growth as market conditions allow. Today’s announcement will affect the location, but not the timing, of the next poultry complex for Sanderson Farms.”

Nash County Commissioners passed a resolution on Sept. 17 that paved the way for a Sanderson Farms poultry plant, local news reports relayed. Its commissioners voted 5-2 in favor of the plant after a public hearing. In an earnings conference call around that time, Sanderson said the actual construction of the complex was “on hold "...until market fundamentals improve, including sufficient confidence that the global supply of feed grains will be adequate to meet world demand at reasonable prices.

“In addition to market conditions, construction of the Nash County facilities remains subject to other contingencies, such as obtaining the land on which the processing plant will be built, obtaining the necessary permits to construct and operate the facilities and obtaining acceptable economic incentive packages from the State of North Carolina and the local government,” Sanderson added at that time.

The processor was initially interested in building a chicken processing plant on 145 acres on N.C. 97 and planned to hire 1,100 employees. However, opposition from local residents and the city of Wilson has lingered for two years and ultimately generated two lawsuits over their concern about the potential impact the operation would have on local water supplies. Most Nash County officials backed Sanderson's plans for a new Nash County plant because it would have created many new jobs and would have helped improve the local economy.

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