Big news for a poultry cooperative. Its efforts to buy a local plant scheduled to close on October 1 have been successful. WHSV has been following this developing story, and found out it's great news for the growers co-op, but bad news for many of the employees.
Four months of hard work has paid off for the Pilgrim's Pride growers co-op. Four months where the future of more than 10 percent of Rockingham County's workforce hung in the balance. Co-op growers say the waiting was the worst part.
“We're glad it's over,” says Forrest Miller, a co-op turkey grower. “We're just glad to get back and start raising turkeys again and hopefully it's going to keep a lot of farms producing birds.”
“It is a big relief,” agrees Sonny Meyerhoeffer, president of the co-op. “You work on something; we've virtually lived in a pressure cooker for four and a half months to get this done and get all the things done that needed to be done.”
The co-op has most of its finances worked out. That's thanks to some grants from the federal government, and from private investors, including the co-op members. It also has contracts with meat processors once it starts production. And, it's looking into selling non-voting stock to raise more money.
Since the co-op is only starting with a single workshift, as many as half of the employees could be laid off initially. But the co-op hopes to be back to full capacity in a year or two. Pilgrim's Pride will shut down operations at the Hinton plant tomorrow. The co-op will resume operations there November 29.