House of Raeford to cut North Carolina jobs

March 14, 2013 1:22:15 PM PDT
Major North Carolina turkey producer House of Raeford announced Thursday it is phasing out its turkey growing and slaughtering operations in eastern North Carolina - cutting about 950 jobs.

The company said it will close its Raeford slaughter plant - which employs 950 people - and its Rose Hill hatchery - which employs 30. The company said the hatchery employees will likely be moved to other positions in other parts of the corporation.

The company said high corn prices have driven feed costs higher and demand for turkey products has fallen slightly. It plans to focus more on increasing chicken production and its line of fully cooked chicken and turkey products over the next 2-3 years.

"It's been here a long time now. I was here back in the 50s cause they slaughtered hogs and stuff here," said worker Earl Locker. "My daddy worked here. It's going to be a bad one but I don't know how bad it's going to be."

"I got the news and everything here this morning myself and honestly tomorrow will be my first year here," said worker Jasmia Simmons. "So now I got to go back through the same process and find a job."

The company will continue to operate its Raeford cooking plant which employs 400. The company said the closures would not affect its remaining 5,300 employees - of which, 2,300 work in North Carolina.

"We intend to further expand the chicken business over the next two to three years so that our increased chicken volume will replace the turkey production we are phasing out," said Bob Johnson, CEO of House of Raeford.

The company said it intends to work with its turkey growers to determine if they're interested in switching over to chicken production.

House of Raeford said it is one of America's top 10 chicken producers and processors.

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