Closing of Raeford slaughterhouse puts 950 people out of work

dbracken@newsobserver.comAugust 1, 2013 

House of Raeford officially closed its turkey slaughterhouse in Raeford on Thursday, putting 950 people out of work.

The company first announced plans to shutter the facility in March. It’s also closing its turkey hatchery in Rose Hill and ending its relationship with about 140 turkey farmers in Eastern North Carolina.

House of Raeford was by far the largest employer in Raeford, a city of fewer than 5,000 people just south of Fort Bragg. The company was also the city’s largest water user, accounting for about $1 million in water and sewer revenues annually.

House of Raeford said in March that elevated corn prices, as well as falling turkey prices and flat turkey consumption in recent years, have made the breeding and slaughtering business unprofitable. Getting out of the business will allow House of Raeford to focus on increasing chicken production and expanding its lines of fully cooked turkeys and chickens over the next several years.

House of Raeford said in a release that it is providing severance packages to employees who are eligible. A job fair is also planned to try to connect laid-off workers with regional companies that have job openings.

“Providing the marketplace with quality turkey products was a lifelong passion of my father,” CEO Bob Johnson, whose father founded the company, said in a statement. “Because our entire family has been involved in growing turkeys for so many years, leaving the commodity turkey business was one of the most difficult decisions we have ever made.”

The Raeford plant has been in the poultry slaughtering business since the 1950s. House of Raeford took it over in 1975.

The company will still employ more than 2,000 people in North Carolina after the closing, including 400 at a plant in Raeford where they cook turkeys to package and sell in grocery stores.

With the closing of the Raeford plant, North Carolina now has two turkey-processing facilities. Butterball, which is based in Garner and is the country’s largest turkey producer, operates a plant in Mount Olive, and Prestige Farms has one in St. Pauls in Robeson County.

Bracken: 919-829-4548

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