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Upgrades to chicken processing may benefit Webster Parish

by Minden Press-Herald

Staff Report

Minden Press-Herald

House of Raeford Farms CEO Bob Johnson announced that the company will invest $40.9 million to build a new feed mill in Simsboro and $5.7 million to upgrade its Arcadia chicken processing plant and Gibsland hatcher. The feed mill will be capable of producing 12,500 tons of chicken feed weekly, doubling the capacity of an older mill in Choudrant, LA. 

Based in North Carolina, House of Raeford Farms distributes chicken products to foodservice companies, retail grocery stores, schools, other processing companies and export channels. House of Raeford-labeled products are sold in retail grocery stores, and company products also are packaged under private labels for customers.

“House of Raeford is committed to our operations in Louisiana as evidenced by these major capital expenditures and planned employment increases,” said Johnson. “In keeping with the growth objectives of our company, our Louisiana complex is also the first of our locations to offer ‘No Antibiotics Ever’ chicken products to our customers.”

The company will expand its operations at the Arcadia chicken processing facility and upgrade both the Arcadia facility and the Gibsland hatchery with building modifications and new equipment. The Bienville Parish expansion project will create 105 new direct jobs at an average annual salary of $24,000, plus benefits. 

“We are excited for Raeford Farms to be making these developments in some of the surrounding cities in our area. These new jobs being created can only lead to new people shopping locally around Minden, as well as potentially bringing new residents to the city,” said Terry Gardner, Mayor of the City of Minden. 

“We are excited about the economic impact this expansion will have on the Town of Arcadia,” said Arcadia Mayor O’Landis “Bubba” Millican. “House of Raeford is the heartbeat of our small town. Excitement breeds excitement, and I’m excited yet grateful that the House of Raeford is willing to continue to invest in Arcadia, as well as Bienville Parish long-term. The creation of over 100 new jobs will help with the unemployment rate not only in Arcadia but also in the surrounding areas. We look forward to the continued partnership with the House of Raeford.”

“House of Raeford’s investment and expansion in the Town of Gibsland is a game-changer for our community,” said Gibsland Mayor Ray Ivory. “We are very excited and look forward to working with the company for years to come.”

The expansion project in Bienville Parish will retain 924 existing jobs. Louisiana Economic Development (LED) estimates those improvements will result in 284 new indirect jobs, for a total of 389 new jobs for Bienville Parish and the surrounding area.

“The Village of Simsboro is delighted that the House of Raeford is building a feed mill in our community,” said Simsboro Mayor Sybil Foster. “It means a great deal to our economy, and we look forward to a long relationship with the company.”

House of Raeford estimates construction of the new feed mill in Simsboro will take 18 months to two years to complete, while improvements to the Gibsland hatchery and Arcadia processing plant will be finished earlier. The expansions will allow the company to contract for 86 new poultry houses in the region. Under poultry house contracts, a company supplies birds and feed, and farmers provide housing, utilities, and labor to raise chickens for the company. Development of the new poultry houses will generate an additional $28 million in construction-related spending in the region.

“We are happy to see House of Raeford Farms extend its commitment to Louisiana’s Northwest Region as it adds more than 100 jobs in Bienville Parish and invests almost $41 million in a new feed mill in Lincoln Parish,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “Food processing is big business for many of our North Louisiana communities. House of Raeford already is one of the largest employers in the area, so its decision to expand its operations is welcome news indeed.”

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