HUNTSVILLE, Ark. — A North Carolina-based food manufacturer has announced plans to add at least 30 new turkey farms around River Valley.
Company officials say the expansion of Butterball LLC’s turkey production facilities is needed to help the company keep pace with growing demand.
Most of the farms will be located within a 50-mile radius of Ozark and Altus, but company officials said they will consider pushing the expansion north to the Huntsville area. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2cFp7Dl ) reports that most of the farms will be owned and operated by contract poultry growers.
“We may do a handful of company-owned farms down in the Ozark area just because we need that expansion pretty quickly,” Butterball head of live operations Walter Pelletier said. “Our preference would be all contract, but we may wind up doing three, four or even five company-owned farms just to facilitate getting those farms online quicker.”
According to Butterball nutritionist Vernon Felts, there are currently about 60 farms in the Ozark and Altus area, and 115 around Huntsville currently producing turkeys for Butterball. Felts said the new farms would cost around $900,000 to build. Contract farmers would own the land and be responsible for financing the construction, but Butterball would own the turkeys.
The company also recently hired 150 hourly and 14 salary workers for its processing plant in Ozark.
According to the National Turkey Federation, Butterball produced about 1.36 billion pounds of turkey in 2015. The company is based in Garner, N.C. and is the largest producer of turkey products in the U.S.
Marvin Childers, who is president of the Poultry Federation of Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, said Arkansas ranked third in the nation with 27.5 million pounds of turkeys produced in 2015. According to Childers, the turkey industry is responsible for 4,154 direct and 7,857 indirect jobs throughout the state.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com