Tyson Foods has entered into a $1 billion senior secured credit facility with JPMorgan Chase bank, Reuters reports. The credit, secured by the company's cash, accounts receivable and inventory, will go to paying down the company's debt and future financing needs.

The new $1 billion credit will replace a revolving credit facility, where Tyson and its subsidiaries had pledged substantially all their assets as collateral, the report says. This new credit facility is scheduled to mature on March 9, 2012. Tyson also announced that it closed on its previously announced $810 million offering of senior notes at $10.5 percent that are due in 2014

Source: Reuters

Morton's posts $8 million loss, 12% same-store sale drop

Steakhouse operator Morton's Restaurant Group Inc. posted a fourth-quarter loss of $8.1 million, down from earnings of $6.4 million from a year ago. Revenue declined 7 percent to $93.5 million, and same-store sales dropped 12 percent. Included in the loss were 60 cents per share in impairment charges, 4 cents per share to close certain locations and 15 cents per share to settle labor claims. Excluding those items, the company earned 27 cents per share for the quarter, AP reports.

For the fiscal year, Morton's revenue rose slightly from $353.8 million to $354.5 million, but the company had a loss of $67.8 million compared to earnings of $13 million from the previous year. The company has forecast a first-quarter loss and is expecting same-store sales to drop at least 20 percent, as consumers in the struggling economy cut back from expensive restaurant dinners.

Source: Associated Press

Meadowbrook Farms plans for bankruptcy

Meadowbrook Farms, a hog-farming cooperative that was founded in Rantoul, Ill., in 2002, is planning to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and liquidate its assets, barring a last-minute reprieve. The company's processing plant closed in December, laying off more than 600 people.

"We've had feelers out to what you might call white knights," said Bob Johnson, one of Meadowbrook's board members, but added, "I don't think it's likely at this point." There are more than 100 members in the cooperative, according to the Associated Press.

Meadowbrook CEO Richard Klene, who is one of two employees left on the payroll, said he is still trying to find a multimillion-dollar loan or an investor to keep Meadowbrook alive. "I'm not trying to buy time, I'm trying to save 625 jobs," he said Monday. The cooperative's bank and the USDA have already turned down requests for aid.

Source: Associated Press

USDA details its portion of Recovery Act

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will be delivering its first actions implementing the $28 billion provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that President Barack Obama signed into law. USDA funding will help rebuild and revitalize rural communities as well as help stimulate local economies and create jobs. Among the USDA funding projects are:
* The Farm Service Agency (FSA) will use immediately $145 million of the $173 million provided in the Recovery Act for its Direct Operating Farm Loan Program, which will give 2,042 farmers – almost 50% are beginning farmers and 10% are socially disadvantaged producers - direct loans from the agency. These loans will be used to purchase items such as farm equipment, feed, seed, fuel and other operating expenses and will stimulate rural economies by providing American farmers funds to operate. Currently, farmers are struggling with the high costs of running family farms, seriously affecting beginning and socially disadvantaged producers.
* USDA Rural Development Agency will initially provide nearly 10,000 rural families with $14.9 million ($1.17 billion in loan guarantees) for homeownership financing, creating or saving more than 5,000 jobs. * USDA Rural Development will also release funding for more than $400 million in pending applications for Water and Waste grants and $140 million in pending applications for Water and Waste Direct Loans. Rural Development expects nearly 13,000 jobs will be created by 400 water and wastewater projects.
* The Recovery Act provides additional funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program. Through this program, USDA provides commodities and administrative funds to states for further distribution to local organizations that assist the needy, including food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens. The first $25 million to support administrative functions will be distributed this month.

"President Obama responded extraordinarily to a crisis unlike any since the Great Depression and his efforts and that of the USDA will have a significant impact not only in rural communities but in communities across the country struggling with today's tough economic times," said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Farm counties with poultry production outperform those without

A recent comparative study of farm incomes in southern Georgia concludes that counties that have poultry production facilities have, on average, total net farm income of almost three times that of comparable but non-poultry-producing counties. Poultry counties are also more economically efficient, with a net income per acre more than double that of non-poultry counties, according to the study.

The study, A Comparison of Farm Incomes for Poultry and Non-Poultry Producing Counties in South Georgia, was issued by The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Its author, Dan Cunningham, Ph.D., is a professor and extension specialist in the University’s Department of Poultry Science; he is also a member of The Poultry Science Association.

“I believe that a parallel study on the relative economic contributions of poultry vs. non-poultry counties in other areas of the country would find that the general conclusions of our work hold true. They would likely demonstrate that poultry production has a strikingly powerful effect in terms of economic impact on these typically smaller and more rural economies,” said Cunningham.

The study notes that the decision to locate an integrated poultry production complex in a given county brings with it average initial investments of more than $180 million in hard assets, such as processing plants, feed mills, hatcheries and production houses, along with more than $50 million annually in payroll and labor and contract payments.

While the study notes that a new poultry complex will add some costs to the community, such as additional demands on roads, utilities, schools, etc., these will usually be more than offset by new tax revenues and spending that flow from the poultry and poultry-related facilities. The study notes that “Georgia has more than 20 poultry production complexes located across the state and all are operating as an economic benefit to their communities.”

“I believe that the increase in zoning restrictions against poultry that we’ve seen in the last few years runs counter to the economic well-being of the counties where these restrictions are being put in place. It’s therefore incumbent on us – poultry scientists, PSA members and everyone in the poultry industry – to do a better job of helping community members understand the economic value of poultry production to their communities,” said Cunningham.

A copy of the study is available for download at no charge from http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubcd/C897.htm.

Source: Poultry Science Association