WINCHESTER, VA. – TFC Poultry LLC, based in Ashby, Minn., confirmed it will invest $31.5 million to convert a former dairy facility in Winchester to a turkey deboning plant. Officials said the new operation will create 111 jobs in the community. The 96,000-square-foot plant, which formerly operated as Sunshine’s Pride Dairy until it closed in 2011, will undergo an extensive renovation that will include adding loading dock space and production areas, according to Darrin Froemming, president for TFC.

“Production is anticipated to start in the third quarter of 2022, with plans to start up the existing freezer to offer boxing and freezing services, as well as thawing, to follow shortly,” he said.

Plans are to initially utilize about 60% of the facility while exploring options to add other processing operations and turkey thigh deboning for the remaining space, he added. TFC utilizes proprietary thigh deboning equipment that incorporates robotic technology as well as X-ray and vision systems to ensure foreign material detection.  

“We take a unique approach to our culture, which has allowed us to remain fully staffed for nearly the entire pandemic,” Froemming said.

When announcing TFC’s plans, Governor Ralph Northam said the company committed sourcing more than 100 million lbs of Virginia-grown turkey over the next four years. He said Winchester was just one location being considered by TFC and was ultimately chosen over options in West Virginia.

“Virginia’s strong agriculture sector continues to play a critical role in the success of our booming economy,” Northam said. “We are pleased the company has chosen to establish its first East Coast facility right here in Virginia, and we look forward to all of its success in the future.”

Northam approved a $500,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund and a $400,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund to assist the City of Winchester with the project. TFC Poultry is also eligible for state benefits from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s Virginia Enterprise Zone Program.

“The company narrowed to this region due to the great access it offers to the I-81 corridor and to some of our key customers and suppliers,” Froemming said. “We specifically chose Winchester, Va. due to two primary factors: the first was the availability of all ranges of talent and that talent’s proximity to the new location, and the second reason was the embracing of progress the city demonstrated to the company throughout its due diligence stage. No other community held such an aggressive, yet genuinely welcoming reception.”