Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback addresses crowd during Tyson Foods press event.
The poultry complex project announced in Tonganoxie, Kan., will supply Tyson Foods with No Antibiotics Ever branded retail products. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback attended the press conference announcing the poultry complex.

TONGANOXIE, Kan. – MEAT+POULTRY editors attended a Sept. 5 press conference where executives from Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson Foods Inc. as well as state and local elected officials gathered in Tonganoxie to announce plans to build a new, $320 million poultry complex with the capacity to process 1.25 million chickens per week.

The company plans to finalize the purchase of approximately 300 acres near the city in northeast Kansas, where it will break ground this fall on a project that will include a hatchery, feed mill, processing plant and the infrastructure to support it. Tyson expects to employ about 1,600 people and will contract with producers in northeast Kansas to supply the facility with birds.

Production is scheduled to begin in mid-2019 at the plant, which will supply retail customers throughout the country with tray-packed, fresh chicken. After announcing its No Antibiotics Ever (NAE) branded retail chicken products earlier this year, Tyson became the largest producer of NAE chicken in the world. As demand for this product continues to grow, the Tonganoxie plant’s production will help supply the line.

Tom Hayes, Tyson Foods Inc.
Tom Hayes, president and CEO of Tyson Foods Inc.

Tom Hayes, president and CEO of Tyson, said in a statement that the continued demand for chicken warrants the company’s investment. “We believe this new operation, which will incorporate the latest production technology, will enable us to meet the sustained growth in consumer demand for fresh chicken,” he said.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback attended the press conference and acknowledged the economic benefit the complex will have on the state’s economy, which is estimated at about $150 million per year, considering the impact of payments to producers, payroll and purchases of utilities and grain.

“Kansas will be an outstanding home for this Tyson complex,” said Brownback. “Growing Kansas means we must grow the food and agriculture sector which accounts for nearly 45 percent of the state’s economy. The far-reaching impact of this development will be felt by farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses and communities throughout eastern Kansas,” he said.

With a history and culture that is supportive of agriculture, Kansas offers agricultural businesses an ideal labor pool to draw from, Brownback said. “Kansas is known throughout the world for our commitment to animal agriculture and for our communities which offer an exceptional place for companies of this quality to find a talented workforce in a business-friendly environment.”

Tonganoxie Mayor Jason Ward said the city has been preparing for a development of this size and scope for years and the time is right for a company like Tyson to become a part of the community. 

“Tonganoxie is looking forward to a successful partnership with Tyson Foods,” said Ward. “We have planned for a development of this type for many years by making strategic investments in public infrastructure targeted to support future industrial growth,” he added. “This project will bring much anticipated opportunities for local residents to enjoy the quality of life benefit of working close to home.”

“We believe eastern Kansas is the right location because of the availability of grain and labor, as well as access to our nationwide customer base that is accessible through the state’s top-notch transportation network,” said Doug Ramsey, group president of Poultry for Tyson Foods, who also attended the event.

The new complex will represent the seventh Kansas community where Tyson maintains operations. It estimates its total financial impact in fiscal 2016 was more than $2.4 billion, which included grain purchases, utilities, property taxes and charitable contributions.