Egg farm plans on track

Published 11:46 am Thursday, March 1, 2007

By Staff
Downsizing rumor a scrambled message, Wesner says
By NIKIE MAYO, News Editor
The man behind Rose Acre Farms says the company has “every intention” of completing its egg facility in Ponzer and will not stop when the job’s halfway done.
A circulating e-mail suggests the company will scale back its operations in Hyde County, building only half the houses and having only half the chickens its state permits allow. The company is permitted to build 14 layer houses and have 4 million chickens.
Executive Vice President Tony Wesner said construction may be slowed, but balked at the notion that the Indiana-based company would shrink its North Carolina plant.
Most of those facilities were ready when the company hosted its open house in Hyde County last July. Rose Acre also has plants in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Georgia.
Plans to bring the plant to eastern North Carolina met opposition from environmental groups that said such an operation would release up to 5 million pounds of ammonia annually. Those worries, in part, led to a lengthy permitting process and a best-management-practices plan that details the company’s plant operations and its plans to deal with ammonia emissions.
Asked about the proposed downsizing, people connected with the project said they were in the dark.
Interim Hyde County Manager Carl Classen was equally stumped.
Mac Gibbs, Hyde County’s agriculture extension agent, said he felt some responsibility for the scrambled message.
Gibbs said the egg farm is already a feather in Hyde County’s economic cap. The price of farmers’ grain has increased by at least 10 cents per bushel since the operation began, Gibbs said.