Tyson to build $320 million poultry complex in eastern Kansas | TheFencePost.com

Tyson to build $320 million poultry complex in eastern Kansas

By, Amy G. Hadachek
for The Fence Post

To meet the increasing widespread demand for more protein and chicken in the human diet, Tyson Foods, Inc. has announced plans to build a $320 million poultry complex in eastern Kansas.

Tyson announced on Sept. 5, that it will begin constructing a processing plant, hatchery and feed mill near Tonganoxie, in Leavenworth County. The plant, which expects to employ 1,600 people and contract with farmers and ranchers in northeast Kansas to raise chickens, plans to begin production in mid-2019. Tyson Foods anticipates purchasing 300 acres south of Tonganoxie, with plans to break ground this fall.

"More people want fresh food and as one of the world's leading protein companies, we're well-positioned to provide it," said Tom Hayes, president and CEO of Tyson Foods. "We believe this new operation, which will incorporate the latest production technology, will enable us to meet the sustained growth in consumer demand for fresh chicken."

Eastern Kansas was selected, specifically.

“Kansas will be an outstanding home for this Tyson complex. The far-reaching impact of this development will be felt by farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses and communities throughout eastern Kansas. ”

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"We believe eastern Kansas is the right location because of availability of grain and labor, as well as access to our nationwide customer base accessible through the state's top-notch transportation network," said Doug Ramsey, group president of poultry for Tyson Foods.

Officials from Kansas Farm Bureau noted the product will be broilers for case-ready packages in the grocery store.

"This is good news for Kansas and the ag sector in Kansas," said Rich Felts, president of the Kansas Farm Bureau. "Tyson's $320 million investment in this Kansas community means area farmers will benefit from, not only growing the birds, but also raising commodities that will be used to feed them."

Impacts of the forthcoming chicken facility is expected to be far-reaching through various agriculture commodities. That includes Kansas-grown soybeans, corn and other area crops.

"In 2014, the meal from about 17.2 million bushels of soybeans went to animal agriculture in Kansas. Of that, pigs consumed 46 percent, beef cattle consumed 39 percent and dairy cattle consumed 11 percent. Growth in the state's poultry sector could be the largest driver for increased domestic utilization of Kansas soybeans," said Kenlon Johannes, administrator of the Kansas Soybean Commission.

The Kansas Corn Commission and Kansas Corn Growers Association also applauded Tyson's announcement.

"This facility will create strong demand for feed grains in a high corn production area. Our growers will benefit from this new local market for our crops," said Kansas Corn Growers Association President, Ken McCauley. "It's exciting to know we'll be a part of this locally sourced, locally produced product."

According to the Kansas Corn Growers Association, a chicken consumes about 1.6 pounds of feed per day; half of which is corn. It's estimated the Tyson Foods project will increase demand for Kansas corn by 175,000 bushels of corn per week, or 9.1 million bushels of corn per year.

Jason Ward, the mayor of Tonganoxie, said it's been a crazy-busy couple days in the aftermath of the announcement, but an exciting time.

"The city is interested in the Tyson project due to the jobs it will bring to our community, the revenue streams it would create and the opportunities for additional job creation and synergy businesses that would come to our community to work with Tyson," Ward said. "There's a public process that will play out as the project works its way through Leavenworth County, and the city of Tonganoxie but we are certainly interested in the project because of those fantastic opportunities."

Ward also noted that Tonganoxie has been preparing for a "development of this type for many years" by making strategic investments in public infrastructure to support future industrial growth.

"This project will bring much-anticipated opportunities for local residents to enjoy the quality of life benefit of working close to home," he said.

The poultry plant is expected to be able to process 1 million chickens weekly, increasing Tyson Foods' overall production capacity. The wide-scale impact will include payroll and payments to farmers from the new operation, along with the purchase of grain and utilities, which is forecast to generate an annual $150 million in economic benefit to the state of Kansas.

It all boils down to growing the food and agriculture sector, which accounts for about 45 percent of the state's economy, in order to grow Kansas, said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

"Kansas will be an outstanding home for this Tyson complex. The far-reaching impact of this development will be felt by farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses and communities throughout eastern Kansas," Brownback said adding, "Kansas is known throughout the world for our commitment to animal agriculture and for our communities, which offer an exceptional place for companies of this quality to find a talented workforce in a business-friendly environment."

Tyson officials say they'll work with outside contractors to build the plant, hatchery and feed mill. They expect to involve hundreds of workers in the build. Any farmers and ranchers interested in raising chickens for the new poultry complex, are encouraged to check out the website for more information: http://www.growwithtyson.com

Earlier this year, Tyson Foods announced its shift to 'No Antibiotics Ever' (NAE) in its Tyson branded retail chicken products. Tyson noted the Tonganoxie plant will continue the NAE method of operation.

Currently, Tyson Foods operates facilities in six Kansas communities, and employs about 5,700 people in the state with a $210 million annual payroll. In its 2016 fiscal year, Tyson Foods paid Kansas cattle suppliers more than $2 billion and hog suppliers $1.3 million. Company officials estimated its total statewide annual economic impact for fiscal 2016 to be $2.4 billion, which includes grain purchases, utilities, property taxes and charitable contributions. ❖

-Hadachek is a freelance writer who lives on a farm with her husband in north central Kansas and is also a meteorologist and storm chaser. She can be reached at: rotatingstorm2004@yahoo.com.