Strong demand for chicken and strong Kansas feed grain production prompted Tyson Foods to move forward with plans to build a $320 million poultry complex in eastern Kansas. The Kansas Corn Commission and Kansas Corn Growers Association applauded the announcement in Tonganoxie.
“Kansas Corn is continually working to build demand for corn in Kansas, nationally and internationally. 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. Coupled with the economic impact on the local and state level, this is a win for Kansas,” 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.”
A chicken consumes about 1.6 pounds of feed per day, half of which is corn. It is estimated that the Tyson Foods project will increase demand for Kansas corn by roughly 175,000 bushels of corn per week, or 9.1 million bushels of corn per year. Kansas corn production for 2017 is predicted to be 665 million bushels. It would be the second largest crop in the state’s history, slightly less than the record 2016 crop of 699 million bushels.
Processing plant, hatchery, feed mill planned
According to the Kansas Department of Agriculture, Tyson Foods will construct a processing plant, hatchery and feed mill near the city of Tonganoxie, in Leavenworth County, which will employ approximately 1,600 people and contract with eastern Kansas farmers and ranchers to raise chickens. The operation, currently scheduled to begin production in mid-2019, will produce pre-packaged trays of fresh chicken for retail grocery stores nationwide.
The poultry plant will be capable of processing 1.25 million birds per week, increasing Tyson Foods’ overall production capacity. The payroll and payments to farmers from the new operation, along with its purchase of grain and utilities, is expected to generate an annual economic benefit to the state of Kansas of $150 million, according to a previous report.
Tyson Foods anticipates purchasing about 300 acres of property south of Tonganoxie and currently plans to break ground sometime this fall. The company will work with outside contractors to build the plant, hatchery, feed mill and related infrastructure and expects the construction project to involve hundreds of workers.
Tyson Foods operates facilities in six Kansas communities, employing about 5,700 in the state with an annual payroll of more than $210 million. In its 2016 fiscal year, Tyson Foods paid Kansas cattle suppliers more than $2 billion and hog suppliers more than $1.3 million. The company estimates its total statewide annual impact for fiscal 2016 to be more than $2.4 billion, including grain purchases, utilities, property taxes and charitable contributions.
Public forum to hear concerns
There will be a public forum to hear concerns about the plans on September 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the VFW Hall in Tonganoxie. The lawmakers to co-host the forum are Sen. Tom Holland, Rep. Jim Karleskint and Willie Dove. Holland, a Democrat, was a candidate for governor in 2010, having been defeated in the general election by Brownback. Karleskint and Dove are both Republicans.