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$2 billion chicken lays golden egg.

Poultry Production Boosts Economy in Arkansas as Tyson Leads Way

WHEN IT COMES TO the Arkansas economy, there is no question about whether the chicken or the egg came first. The chicken came first, and it laid a golden egg for the state's economy.

This was never more obvious than in 1992, when the value of poultry for the first time reached $2 billion. The Arkansas Poultry Federation says the state annually produces more than three broiler chickens for every person in the United States.

"It's first time a state ever grew a billion broilers and the first time that a state had $2 billion in farm income from poultry," says Lionel Barton, Ph.D., a poultry specialist for the Cooperative Extension Service, University of Arkansas.
Poultry Plants in Arkansas

Batesville ConAgra Frozen Foods (3 plants)
 Townsends Inc.

Bentonville Tyson Foods Inc.

Berryville Tyson Foods Inc.

Bloomer Tyson Foods Inc.

Clarksville Tyson Foods Inc.

Clinton ConAgra Frozen Foods

Danville Wayne Poultry Division

Dardanelle Tyson Foods Inc.

Decatur Peterson Industries Inc.

DeQueen Pilgrim's Pride Corp.

El Dorado ConAgra Broiler Co.

Fayetteville Herider Farms Inc.
 Tyson Foods Inc. (2 plants)

Fort Smith O.K. Foods Inc. (10 plants)
 Tyson Foods Inc.

Grannis Tyson Foods Inc.

Green Forest Tyson Foods Inc.

Hope Hudson Foods Inc.

Nashville Tyson Foods Inc.

North Little Rock Tyson Foods Inc.

Pine Bluff Tyson Foods Inc. (3 plants)

Rogers Tyson Foods Inc. (3 plants)

Russellville Tyson Foods Inc.

Siloam Springs Simmons Industries Inc. (3 plants)

Springdale George's Inc.
 Tyson Foods Inc. (3 plants)

Van Buren Tyson Foods Inc.

Waldron Tyson Foods Inc.

Source: December 1992 "Broiler Industry" magazine.

The $2 billion poultry income was nearly half of the state's total farm income last year, and poultry has had another major impact.

"Not only did we produce a lot of chickens and realize a lot of income, but we also generated a lot of jobs," Barton says. "The number of people employed directly or indirectly in the industry approached 100,000 last year. One in 12 jobs in Arkansas has been attributed to the poultry industry."

The Poultry Federation says the average salary and benefits for all poultry companies in the state is $22,000 a year, and that pours $2 billion into the economy.

Ten of the nation's top poultry producers are located in Arkansas, including Springdale-based Tyson Foods Inc., the No. 1 producer, and ConAgra at El Dorado, which is No. 2.

Not only is Arkansas the leader in broiler production, but it also is sixth in egg production and third in turkey production. Arkansas poultry can be found on dinner tables in Russia and several other countries.

Several areas of the state have benefited from expansions in growing and processing operations, but northwest Arkansas has been the major beneficiary.

"Northwest Arkansas is hustling and bustling because of WalMart, the trucking industry and poultry," Barton says. "Washington and Benton counties are two of the fastest growing counties in the United States from an economic standpoint."

The trucking industry owes much of its success to the poultry industry, Barton says. The companies began their good fortune hauling rice hulls from eastern Arkansas to poultry producers in northwest Arkansas to use as litter on the floors of chicken houses and hauling chickens in refrigerated trucks.

Poultry also has spurred the growth of another major area industry: cattle. Most poultry growers also raise cattle and use the litter from their poultry operations to fertilize pastures.
Northwest Arkansas-Based Poultry Companies

Company Headquarters 1992 Revenues

Tyson Foods Inc. Springdale $4,168,840,000

Hudson Foods Rogers 809,243,000

O.K. Industries Fort Smith 403,000,000

Peterson Industries Inc. Decatur 150,000,000(*)

George's Inc. Springdale 150,000,000(*)

Simmons Industries Inc. Siloam Springs 225,000,000(*)

Sources: Company officials and annual reports; * Not confirmed
by company officials. Figure is from 1993 Million Dollar
Directory or 1993 Dun's Business Ranking.

How did Arkansas become a power in poultry production when poultry was already well established in Georgia and the three-state area of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia?

Arkansas is closer to major consumer markets in the Midwest and the western United States and to the major grain suppliers, Barton says. Arkansas producers can purchase feed more cheaply than the other states, he adds.

It also didn't hurt that the popularity of poultry has been rising steadily. Americans consumed 95.6 pounds per person last year--up 3.4 pounds over 1991. Poultry's share of the total meat consumed increased from 11 percent in 1940 to 37 percent in 1992.

"The reason poultry is so popular is the fact that it has been on the cutting edge of technology for a long time," Barton says. "It's in a product that the consumer is demanding."

Dr. Pamela Brady, a foods specialist for the Cooperative Extension Service, agrees. She says the American consumer is looking for quality and convenience in food, and poultry fills the bill.

"Everybody wants food quickly," she says. "Chicken fits into our lifestyle a lot better than many other meats."
Arkansas Poultry Production & Income History

 Commercial Broilers

Year No. of Raised Gross Income

1940 8,700,000 $5,011,000
1950 49,179,000 36,904,000
1960 180,397,000 91,155,000
1970 450,779,000 202,310,000
1980 634,877,000 657,000,000
1990 951,300,000 1,378,434,000
1992 1,022,500,000 1,529,660,000


Year No. of Raised Gross Income

1940 125,000 $228,000
1950 496,000 2,641,000
1960 2,132,000 10,387,000
1970 7,258,000 33,543,000
1980 14,500,000 106,416,000
1990 22,000,000 185,812,000
1992 25,000,000 196,650,000

Source: Arkansas Agricultural Statistics Service

What does the future hold for the industry?

Barton says that per capita consumption of poultry will continue to expand for the foreseeable future.

"I don't see industry growth stopping in Arkansas," Barton says. "I see growth spilling over into Oklahoma and Missouri."

He says that genetic technology alone is allowing poultry production to grow at an annual 2 percent to 3 percent rate.

Barton also says the University of Arkansas will continue to play a leading role in expanding and helping the poultry industry.

The Poultry Center of Excellence, a state-of-the-art $20 million research facility scheduled for completion in 1995, will address problems such as industry food safety, genetics, disease, nutrition and management, Barton says.

Barton's broiler energy unit project has compared ways to heat and cool broiler houses, and data from this project will help industry develop energy-efficient systems.

Lamar James is a communications specialist for the Cooperative Extension Service, University of Arkansas and a former business reporter for the Arkansas Gazette.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Journal Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Poultry; poultry industry in Arkansas
Author:James, Lamar
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Oct 18, 1993
Previous Article:NW Arkansas Council unifies regional efforts.
Next Article:NW corner makes political gains.

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