The farm fields around the intersection of 71st Street South and Tyler Road are growing more rumors than crops these days. The rumors are that Tyson Foods, the nation’s biggest meat company, is eyeing this obscure intersection between Haysville and Clearwater. (Video by Bo Rader / The Wichita Eagle) (Bensound.com) Bo Rader / The Wichita Eagle
The farm fields around the intersection of 71st Street South and Tyler Road are growing more rumors than crops these days. The rumors are that Tyson Foods, the nation’s biggest meat company, is eyeing this obscure intersection between Haysville and Clearwater. (Video by Bo Rader / The Wichita Eagle) (Bensound.com) Bo Rader / The Wichita Eagle

Local

Tyson Tennessee announcement doesn’t scratch Kansas plans

By Dion Lefler

dlefler@wichitaeagle.com

November 20, 2017 12:21 PM

UPDATED November 21, 2017 01:11 PM

Tyson Foods has announced plans for a massive chicken processing plant in Tennessee, but that won’t affect the company’s consideration of building a plant in Sedgwick County or elsewhere in Kansas, a company spokesman said.

Plans for a Kansas plant have been “on hold” since late September when Leavenworth County rejected a plan for the facility near Tonganoxie, said spokesman Worth Sparkman.

Since then, the company has had talks with Sedgwick, Cloud and Montgomery counties, but no firm plans have emerged.

The company and state and county negotiators have characterized the talks as preliminary with no firm sites identified. Tyson has also said it is considering other states.

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The plant announced Monday will be in Humboldt, Tenn., approximately 85 miles from Memphis.

Like the plant originally proposed for Tonganoxie, it is slated to cost about $300 million have about 1,500 employees.

“They’re similar projects, but the one in Kansas is just on hold,” Sparkman said. “We’ll be looking and evaluating communities for future expansion in order to meet demand.”

Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Dave Unruh said he has not heard anything to indicate that a Sedgwick County Tyson plant is off the table.

And the Department of Agriculture issued a statement congratulating Tyson and Tennessee and looking forward to continuing talks with the company.

“Consumer demand drives growth in the food and agriculture industry, and we have been aware throughout our own discussions with Tyson Foods that their expansion plans included multiple facilities in more than one state, so this announcement was not unexpected,” Ag Department spokeswoman Heather Lansdowne said in a written statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with Tyson Foods as they further evaluate expansion of their poultry business unit growth opportunities in Kansas.”

Retiree talks about working for Tyson

Former Tyson employee Tom Kerr talks about working in the company's chicken processing plant in Monett, Missouri. (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle)

theying@wichitaeagle.com