Foster Farms has acquired the Farmerville, La., operations of Pilgrim’s Pride in an $80 million deal. The state of Louisiana is putting up half of the price in the deal, along with an additional $10 million to match $10 million in investments promised by Foster Farms. The Farmerville operations include a processing facility, cook plant, hatchery, feed mill, protein conversion plant and any associated inventory.

“Foster Farms is pleased to have reached an agreement with Pilgrim's Pride for the purchase of their Farmerville chicken production complex,” said Foster Farms CEO Ron Foster. “This purchase represents a significant opportunity for the Farmerville community and for our family-owned poultry company.”

“Consistent with what we have said from the beginning, we would consider selling the complex if we received a meaningful offer reflective of the value for these assets,” said Don Jackson, president and CEO of Pilgrim’s Pride. “We believe this sale at this price is in the best interests of all parties involved, including our employees, growers, the Farmerville community, and our creditors. We appreciate the support and efforts of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and his staff working to bring this process to a satisfactory conclusion for everyone involved.”

“It was less than three weeks ago that we came to Farmerville and made a commitment to do everything legally possible to save the plant,” Jindal said in a telephone interview with The Monroe News-Star late Friday afternoon. “I'm thrilled that after three weeks of hard negotiations we found a way.”

Pilgrim’s had previously rejected offers of $40 and $60 million for the facility, which was to be closed by the company in its restructuring plan. The closing of the plant would have put 1,300 people out of work and affected many local growers.

“There would not have been a home in Union Parish that would have not been affected by this, and I'm not being cute,” said Farmerville Mayor Stein Baughman. “It would’ve trickled down and affected everyone. We would’ve seen a lot of our friends go bankrupt.”

The transaction is subject to the parties entering into a purchase agreement, as well as the expiration or termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott Rodino Improvements Act and approval by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The transaction is expected to be completed within 30 days from signing the purchase agreement.

Sources: Associated Press, Pilgrim’s Pride, The Monroe News-Star

Russia suspends exports from three chicken plants

Russia said it found antibiotics and anti-parasitic drug residue in chicken it received from three processing plants and will stop taking imports from them this Friday. The chicken came from Sanderson Farms in Hammond, La., Peco Foods in Canton, Miss., and Tyson Foods in Cumming, Ga.

USDA spokeswoman Bryn Burkard says the agency has asked Russia for more information, according to AP reports. She says once that arrives, the agency will find out whether the drugs were used and then take appropriate action.

“We’re trying to find out why the Russians want to stop shipments from [the] Cumming plant, which is operating smoothly and continues to produce safe, high-quality products,” Gary Mickelson, a Tyson spokesman, said in a statement. “Since we have other U.S. poultry plants that are approved to ship to Russia, the suspension of the Cumming facility should not affect our overall international sales.”

Source: Associated Press

Canada investigating lunch meat tampering

Twelve packages of Maple Leaf Foods lunch meat and other products have been pulled from shelves of a Guelph, Ontatio, store after investigators have discovered sewing needles in the packages. The latest tampered products discovered last week were Smart Lunch Fajita Combo and Schneiders Lunch Mate Chicken Dunkers.

After a customer of the No Frills store returned a product with a sewing needles, investigators from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Guelph police and No Frills owner Loblaw Companies Ltd. investigated and discovered seven additional tampered packages. No tampered products have been found at any other stores.

Source: The Canadian Press