Sanderson pecks away

Poultry company looking for contract chicken growers

Justin Schoenberge

Kinston Free Press/ Staff Writer

August 21, 2009

 

Everett's Clearing and Grading trucks Thursday prepare the foundation for Sanderson Farms' hatchery and feed house ” a $35 million campaign that began Monday. Company officials are looking for contract chicken growers

 

Sanderson Farms is looking for about 80 people to become contract chicken growers for its Kinston processing plant.

Sanderson — which earlier this week broke ground on its $121.4 million facility slated to open in September 2011 and expected to employ 160 people at its Hill Farm Road location — will host the last of nine information sessions in eastern North Carolina for people interested in raising chickens for the plant.

Director of Development and Engineering Pic Billingsley said at this point, company officials are looking no farther than 30 miles from Kinston.

 “We’ll look at that interest first and if we need to extend radius, we’ll do it on an as-needed basis to make sure we’ve got the necessary contract producers to have enough product for our plant here,” he said.

According to Billingsley, more than 700 people attended a meeting at Lenoir Community College last year that was hosted by Sanderson officials to gauge local interest in contract poultry production.

“The turnout from potential contract producers has been outstanding,” he said. “There’s a lot of interest from these counties.

“We’ve had very good turnout at each meeting, very good questions and a lot of very, very good potential candidates.”

If approved by Sanderson, contract chicken growers will earn $30,000 to $40,000 annually under a 15-year contract. Sanderson supplies the birds, feed and technical support, while growers need to provide the land, building and care for the birds.

When the fowls reach the age of 50 days, Sanderson representatives will take them to the processing plant.

“In addition to having a lot of interest from these potential contract producers,” Billingsley said, “the interest locally from people interested in building these houses for the growers as well as the financial community has been good here.

“(There has been) a lot of interest from the financial institutions wanting to loan the necessary money for these contract producers to get these houses built.”

Jacob Morgan, the agriculture agent for Jones County’s cooperative extension office, said there’s a “buzz” about it among residents his way.

“People are interested or at least curious about it,” Morgan said, adding about 80 county residents and non-residents attended the information session at the Jones County Civic Center last week. “There have been a few people come who have come to the office wanting information when I’ve been here.

There’s also been interest in Lenoir County, according to Cooperative Extension Director Eve Honeycutt. She said about 100 people were at her center’s information session on Aug. 10.

“We’ve been directing (inquiries) to Sanderson representatives,” she said. “At this point, most people have very specific questions about what exactly Sanderson is requiring of them as contract growers.”

However, Honeycutt said contractual red tape is disqualifying some who would otherwise be qualified candidates for the job.

“It’s challenging for our area just because Sanderson is looking for people to only be growers with Sanderson Farms,” she said. “They’re not looking for anybody who has a contract as another company.

“For instance, if they have hogs with another company, they’re not interested in letting those people also grow chickens.

Justin Schoenberger can be reached at (252) 559-1075 or jschoenberger@freedomenc.com.

Sanderson Farms currently has a local representative, Randall Boehme, who can help with any questions. Boehme’s office is located at 508 Plaza Blvd., Kinston, N.C., 28501. The phone number is (252) 208-0036.


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