BATON ROUGE, La. – On Feb. 23, the Louisiana Agricultural Finance Authority (LAFA) distributed $11.2 million in aid to poultry growers who were affected by the 2008 bankruptcy of Pilgrim’s Pride, said Mike Strain, D.V.M., Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner

“These funds should provide tremendous relief for many of the growers who were damaged,” he said.

Pilgrim’s Pride closed its Farmerville plant in 2009, affecting more than 300 independent Louisiana and Arkansas poultry suppliers. The company’s bankruptcy also had repercussion with growers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas. More than $60 million was made available for all growers who lost contracts because of Pilgrim’s Pride’s bankruptcy, Strain said.

One-hundred seventy-five Louisiana growers, mostly located in northeast Louisiana, were paid $11.2 million to help offset their losses resulting from Pilgrim’s Pride’s bankruptcy, Strain said.

The funding for the Poultry Lost Contract Grant Assistance Program came from the federal Poultry Growers Assistance Program managed by the US Department of Agriculture, he continued. LAFA, a division of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s Office of Management and Finance, processed the claims.

Foster Farms took over operation of the Farmerville plant and reopened the facility with the assistance of a $50 million state grant, but many northeast Louisiana growers were nearly ruined during the transition, Strain said. “This money will literally help some of the growers make back payments on their mortgages that will allow them to keep their farms,” Strain concluded.