SALISBURY, Md. – Perdue Farms is closing its Booth Creek Natural Chicken (BCNC) plant in Fredericksburg, Pa., in an initiative to modernize the company's processing plants and capacity.

The company said the BCNC will close on or shortly after March 14, and the lease for a distribution center in Denver, Pa., that serves the BCNC plant will not be renewed. Perdue said it plans to offer all workers affected by the plant closure the opportunity to transfer to other Perdue facilities. Employees who choose not to transfer will be offered severance packages, including extended benefits coverage, the company said. Perdue Farms said it would work with other employers and agencies to place as many workers as possible within the community. More than 600 employees will be affected by the plant closure.

“As we increased our focus on premium brands and products, we freed up capacity across our supply chain, which lead us to look at how we could align our assets to more efficiently serve all of our customers,” said Lester Gray, senior vice president of operations for Perdue Foods. “When we looked at our long-term needs, it became clear that the BCNC plant would require significant and costly upgrades, and even then, we would not overcome the age and physical limitations of the facility.”

Perdue said the changes would not impact the company’s organic live production in Pennsylvania. The company plans help its other Pennsylvania growers to transition to organic poultry production. Additionally, the company is contracting with local farmers as it develops a breeder operation in Pennsylvania.

“These moves are part of an ongoing strategy to focus on premium brands and products in the USDA Process Verified All-Vegetarian Fed, No-Antibiotics-Ever, and Organic segments, while increasing efficiencies in an ever-more competitive marketplace,” said Jim Perdue, chairman of Perdue Farms.