West Point plant shutdown leaves hog farms’ in limbo

Published 9:13 pm Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Prestage Farms, which has contracts to deliver hogs to the Sara Lee plant in West Point, formerly known as Bryan Brothers Meat Packing, is uncertain what will happen to its suppliers when the plant closes at the end of March

Sara Lee announced the closing Monday. About 1,200 workers will lose their jobs.

Prestage Farms contract production manager Kevan McQuary said Tuesday that he understands the concerns of hog producers.

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“Their reactions now are just to see what we’re going to do,” said McQuary. “As of right now, it’s business as usual.”

Prestage Farms, which is based in Clinton, N.C., operates Prestage Farms Mississippi, headquartered in West Point. It employs about 200 people in West Point and has about 40 hog farmers under contract in Mississippi and Alabama, according to the company.

Local farmers provide the plant with 40 percent of its total kill, roughly 450,000 hogs a year, said McQuary.

McQuary said if the West Point plant is sold and not used for meat packing, then Prestage Farms will have to sell swine raised in Mississippi outside the state.

“No other kill plant in Mississippi can handle that amount,” said McQuary.

Future plans for handling swine raised by Prestage’s Mississippi farmers are “in the early stages,” said McQuary, declining to elaborate.

“The Prestage family is going to take care of its growers,” he said.