Planning board OKs egg farm expansion for Cal-Maine

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Source: Millard County Chronicle Progress

al-Maine Foods to add 100-125 new jobs after going cage free

A major expansion of Delta Egg Farms was approved at last week’s county planning commission meeting after a public hearing on the matter.

The project now heads to the Millard County Commission for approval.

Scott Patton, general manager of Delta Egg Farms, which is owned by Cal-Maine Foods, Inc., outlined plans for doubling and tripling the amount of egg production capacity and creating between 100 and 125 new jobs.

Patton said he was expecting to receive the proper approvals before pouring concrete for five new buildings directly across North 4000 West from the current facility.

By 2021, California, Washington and Oregon are requiring all eggs sold in those states to come from cage free production.

“That’s what we are trying to do, build cage free production. We are actually remodeling the existing farm for cage free production as well. So we are in a hurry. It takes 18 months to two years to build,” Patton said. “Hopefully we can be at 90 percent production by the 2021 mark.”

Patton said he’d like to see concrete poured for the five new buildings by the time winter starts.

Cal-Maine Foods owns 2,400 acres and more than 800 acre feet of water at their Sugarville facility. Patton said the county will benefit not only from the new jobs the expansion will create, but also the tax revenues the new facility will generate.

“Our taxes this year are approaching $300,000. I haven’t even thought of what taxes will be on this facility, but it’s going to be at least double, if not more,” Patton said.

Patton said he doesn’t believe there will b any negative impact to expanding operations, that relations with neighbors are solid and commitment to the community is strong.

Planning commissioners asked Patton a variety of questions, including about water usage, truck traffic, feed and waste.

Patton said Cal-Maine’s current water rights amount to about four times what the operation currently uses.

“We have way more water than we actually need. The legislature needs to change that. They think the chicken drinks like a cow…they require us to have that much water, that’s why that much was bought in the beginning,” Patton said of the company’s 800 acre feet of water.

As for the waste generated by the massive egg production operation, Patton said most of the waste is scooped up by other agricultural operations.

“We basically have two farmers who’ve taken the manure from us last the 12 or 14 years. We used to deal with a lot of farmers getting rid of the manure. We don’t have a problem with it,” he said.

Patton was also asked about feed stock and storage at the new facility. He said current operations essentially utilize 9,000 acres of corn to feed a million hens.

He said he anticipates tripling the amount of corn and increasing the volume of soybeans processed for feed at the facility.

“We buy a lot of local corn. It takes about 9,000 acres to feed us right now. So once we’re done, probably 27,000 acres of corn when we’re done. Which I don’t think will ever be planted here. We couldn’t fight the dairies off fast enough,” he said.

Cal-Maine ships corn by train and truck to the facility from Colorado, Nebraska and other Midwestern states.

As for truck traffic, Patton agreed that the expanded facility will see an increase in the number of big rigs coming in and out of the area. Most trucks travel along Brush Wellman Road from local highways.

“We’re shipping four to five loads of eggs a day. And we’re probably hauling seven to eight loads of feed per day. That would double or triple with the additional facility,” he said.

Millard County Commission Chair Dean Draper interrupted the hearing to alert commissioners to the fact the county recently received a federal transportation grant that will see Brush Wellman Road repaved from IPP to the county line, which means for 18 to 24 months, truck traffic will likely be diverted to other area roadways. That road construction is expected to begin sometime next year, he said.

Before planning commissioners approved the 200-acre expansion plans, county planner Adam Richins reminded the board the egg farm’s original conditional use permit, granted in 2001, allowed for a similar expansion. However, because there was a deadline for that expansion, which has since passed, the company was required to come back before the county for new approvals.

The county commission is expected to weigh in on the planning commission’s recommendation at a future meeting. The commission meets Sept. 10, but an agenda was not yet available at press time.

Cal-Maine was exempted from the county’s recently retooled confined animal feeding operation ordinance, which placed new restrictions on some types of industrial agricultural facilities.

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