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US: Tyson feed mill, poultry complex told to find new roost

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The Arkansas-headquartered company announced the new $320m complex including a feed mill, processing plant and hatchery to be based near Tonganoxie, Kansas earlier in September. The company said Tuesday, in a letter provided to us, that it had decided to put the project on ice.

“After Monday’s reversal of support by the Leavenworth County commissioners, we will put our plans in your community on hold,” said Doug Ramsey, group president of poultry for Tyson, in the letter. “We still have interest in Leavenworth Country, but will prioritize the other locations in Kansas and other states that have expressed support.”

“This is a good project that we are deeply passionate about,” he added.

Members of the Leavenworth County Commission reportedly voted on Monday to undo a resolution of intent that would have allowed for up to $500m in industrial revenue bonds to be released for the Tyson complex project.

‘Getting to know’ Tyson

The site would have included a feed mill, processing plant and hatchery with about 1,600 employees and the ability to process 1.25m birds in a week.

It was anticipated to start production in mid-2019, the company said. Work on the location was to have started this autumn.

The facility was looking to nearby areas to source feed grains and farms to raise the needed poultry, the company said.

“We believe eastern Kansas is the right location because of the availability of grain and labor, as well as access to our nationwide customer base that is accessible through the state’s top-notch transportation network,” said Ramsey, in the initial announcement of the proposed complex.

Additionally, the plant would have been part of the company’s move away from the use of antibiotics in chicken production, it said.

In addition to the once-proposed complex, the company operates six other facilities in Kansas, said Tyson. The company said the new project was anticipated to bring about $150m in terms of economic benefit to the area.

“We were invited by state and local leaders to build a new $320m poultry complex in your community,” said Ramsey. “They encouraged us to come to Leavenworth Country. In a show of support, the county commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to use industrial revenue bonds for the project.”

There was an understanding that community members would have questions, he said in the letter. “That’s why we met with some of you after our initial announcement, planned more meetings and offered community leaders a chance to see our facilities first hand,” he added.

“Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to reach as many of you as quickly as we had hoped,” he said.  

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