Boaz poultry plant to close; workers offered transfers

According to Mayor Walker, the plant is scheduled to close Jan. 24th.
According to Mayor Walker, the plant is scheduled to close Jan. 24th.

BOAZ, AL (WAFF) - Nearly 1,200 people in Marshall County will soon be unemployed from a major poultry processing facility in Boaz.

City, county and state leaders met with officials from J.B.S. Pilgrim's Pride to learn the plant would be closing in January. City leaders said the company is consolidating the plant's capacity to Guntersville and Russellville, and that workers will be offered jobs there.

Leaders in Marshall County met with officials at the company around 1 p.m. Tuesday. Mayor Tim Walker said he was not happy by the company's decision, especially after the investment that city has made to the company and the facility.

State Representative Kerry Rich of Albertville said they will be doing what they can to help workers who are not able to make the move to Guntersville or Russellville.

Unemployment, job training, and workforce development will be available to help people in the short term, Rich said. But for the long term, he said the focus must now be on finding a new industry.

"I feel like in time, enough prospects will be brought in to look at this, that an industry will be attracted to fill that facility out there, but this company, they need to make sure that it's available," said Rich.

Walker said Pilgrim's Pride began operations here in 2007, taking over for Goldkist. He said he is upset that as the plant has grown, the city has aided in utility infrastructure to meet the plant's growing demand. Now the company is closing, stripping the plant, and taking its assets with them, preventing Boaz from being able to lure another processing plant.

"I would be careful in those communities to make sure they don't get them in there and increase their capacities and the next thing, they leave the community holding the bag," said Walker.

As for the farmers who send their chickens to the plant, Senator Clay Scofield said he does not anticipate contracts to be broken, but is concerned about lag times, which could be detrimental to farmers.

"What I am concerned with is our out-time. In other words, how long we have between flocks of chickens from the time that we sell to the time we get baby chicks in, because the longer that out-time, again, those note payments continue to come," said Sen. Scofield.

Mayor Walker said he has been told the plant is set for closure January 24.

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