By John Balch
Just off Highway 369 about eight miles north of Nashville, a new state-of-the-art feed mill is rising high.
The new mill is part of Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation’s multi-state re-investment plan and is currently on track for a December 2018 opening, according to the company’s Nashville mill manager Coty Stephens.
Construction on the $35 million facility got underway in early 2016 on a large tract between Highway 26 and the Southwest Arkansas Solid Waste Region Landfill.
Today, part of the new construction reaches 161 feet into the air and Stephens said it will get even higher when a 165-ft. corn storage facility is completed soon after the first of the new year.
“Everything right now is progressing on schedule,” Stephens said.
In February 2016, Pilgrim’s Pride announced a $190 million investment that included $35 million to acquire property and construct the new feed mill in Nashville. The goal of the local investment is to lower feed costs, enhance feed conversion, improve live poultry performance and support growers within the Nashville/De Queen complex.
The approximately 141 acres of land where the new mill is located was purchased from Weyerhaeuser Company in late 2015. A land transaction recorded in the Howard County Circuit Clerk’s office stated the land was purchased for $1.1 million.
The new mill is being built on a site with easy access to roadways and rail service and will employ the latest technology.
Pilgrim’s currently operates a mill located on East Shepard Street on the banks of Mine Creek in downtown Nashville, which dates back to 1955 and has been renovated or expanded many times. The current mill produces approximately 8,000 tons of feed weekly.
Stephens said the plan is to eventually cease operations at the old mill.
“(The old and new mill) will run in tandem for a couple months and then we’ll start phasing it out over a 60 to 90 day period,” he said.
The new mill is expected to meet the poultry giant’s needs for more than half a century. Stephens described the new mill as a 50-year building, referring to the timeframe that it takes concrete takes to completely cure.
“Not only is this a 50-year building but it’s a $50 million commitment to Howard County,” Stephens added.
Pilgrim’s Pride employs approximately 38,000 workers and operates chicken processing plants and prepared-food facilities in 14 states, Puerto Rico and Mexico.