Pilgrim’s Pride announced yesterday that it plans to close its Batesville processing plant within 60 days. However, local economic development officials said that another company, Rogers-based Ozark Mountain Poultry, is thinking of purchasing the plant. The plant employs 470.
Pilgrim’s Pride employs another 1,500 people at its plant in DeQueen. In the past five years, the company has shuttered two plants in El Dorado and a plant in Clinton. The company filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2008 and exited bankruptcy a year later when it sold the majority of its stocks to Brazilian food giant, JBS. It is the largest chicken producer in the United States and Puerto Rico and the second-largest chicken producer in Mexico.
Larry Jones, Independence County economic development director, issued the following statement:
"It is our understanding that Pilgrim’s Pride has officially announced to the Batesville Complex employees that it will stop production in 60 days.
"In anticipation of this closing by Pilgrim’s Pride several weeks ago, the Independence County Economic Development Inc., County Judge and Quorum Court approved a local economic development incentive package to encourage another food processing company to rehire employees and resume operations at the facility.
"Information was obtained that Ozark Mountain Poultry located in Rogers, Arkansas is interested in purchasing the facility, and we, along with Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), are helping in that process.
"We will be working with the prospective buyer, AEDC, plant labor unions, and other community stakeholders to retain the maximum number of jobs and restart the plant as soon as possible. Funding for Independence County economic development incentives is from a countywide one-quarter cent sales tax that was passed by the voters in December 2008.
"Independence County Economic Development Inc. promotes the creation of industrial jobs through business economic development recruitment and retention programs here in Independence County."