High feed costs and low supermarket prices are being cited by Perdue Farms as motivating them to close their Siler City plant within 60 days. The only thing that could preclude the closing would be the sale of the plant to someone else. Eight hundred jobs may be lost.
Perdue is one of Chatham County's largest employers, and the news cast a pall over the annual Chicken Festival, which is being held this weekend.
Also directly affected by any closing would be the 28 workers at a Staley feed mill, and the 118 growers who raise chickens for Perdue under contract. They are primarily in Chatham and Randolph Counties. Only 30 of the growers would continue to raise birds for Perdue, doing so for other Perdue operations.
If such a plant closed, it could also have a ripple effect on the local economy.
Dr. Tom Carter, a poultry specialist with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, is optimistic a buyer will be found. "Very seldom does a facility like that go without a buyer. On the surface, it looks like the situation is such that people wouldn't want to buy it, but if you look beneath the surface, you usually get the best buy when the price is down."
Perdue has said it will let the workers know of openings at their other plants, but the closest are in Robbins and Concord, a considerable distance from Siler City. Most of the workers earn about $7 an hour
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