PITTSBURG, TEXAS — Pilgrim's Pride Corp. will close its poultry processing plant in Athens, Ala., as well as one of the two processing facilities in Athens, Ga., as the company consolidates operations and cuts costs in the wake of it filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2008. The closures are expected to occur within 75 days.

"As we work to restructure Pilgrim's Pride as a market-driven company, we must continue to look for ways to reduce our costs and operate more efficiently," said Don Jackson, president and chief executive. The action is not expected to cause a decrease in production or changes in the firm’s product offerings.

"A key component of that effort is improving our capacity utilization through plant consolidation and other operational changes," added Mr. Jackson. "While the decision to idle a plant and eliminate jobs is always painful - and we regret that it is necessary - it is absolutely critical to the future of Pilgrim's Pride that we make better use of our assets."

Shutting down the operations will affect approximately 640 workers at the Alabama facility, as production from there will be shifted to two other plants bringing them up to full operating capacity. The company will continue to operate its hatchery and feed mill in Alabama and no significant reductions in the number of contract growers are expected.

Production from the company's Athens, Ga., plant on Oneta St. will move to the firm’s nearby plant on Barber St. plant. Approximately 330 employees will be affected by that closure. Production will also be shifted to other operations in north Georgia, which will bring those facilities to full capacity. The live production operations in Athens will continue to operate.