A $53 million investment in Dale County was celebrated Tuesday, Jan. 10, as county and state officials gathered with Wayne Farms LLC and CSXT officials to officially open a feed mill, built on173 acres near Newton Tuesday, Jan. 10.

“Dale County can now say we are the home of the largest poultry feed mill in the United States,” said Dale County Commission Chairman Mark Blankenship as he surveyed the mill that is capable of handling more than 25,000 tons of feed weekly. “It’s a great day in Dale County.

“I think this is one of the biggest economic boosts to Dale County since the opening of Fort Rucker,” Blankenship said, citing the 3 million bushels of corn that will be bought locally and the $60 million Wayne Farms invested in 165 area chicken houses.

Ozark Dale County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Veronica Crock agreed. “We are so pleased to see the huge feed mill open in Dale County,” she said. “This feed mill represents a $53 million investment and jobs in our county and we thank our state, county, military and Wayne Farm neighbors for making this day happen.”

Located in Dale County, on County Road 18 near Newton and Ozark, the new facility will employ approximately 88 people, according to Wayne Farms LLC Chief Operating Officer Clint Rivers. The new feed mill, and the 42,000 square-foot expansion of two-and-a-half-year-old Wayne Farms Dothan fresh processing facility, will add approximately 588 jobs to the Wiregrass area.

The feed mill facility is projected to bring 88 additional jobs to Dale County with a total annual estimated payroll of $3.1 million. The jobs are expected to include positions in manufacturing, feed hauling and administration.

“This regional project represents the efforts of an integral network of organizations and elected officials at local and state levels,” Blankenship added. “We value the collaboration shown on this project between the Ozark-Dale County Economic Development Corporation and the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce.”

Blankenship also thanked the Newton Water Authority for investing in an enhanced water system to support the plant and coordinators at Fort Rucker who worked to incorporate the 232 foot tall mill in to the flight patterns.

The Dale County feed mill is designed to handle three of the company’s operations. The projected output for the Ozark feed mill, when fully operational, will be some 25,000 tons a week.

“This is a big deal for this part of the state,” said Alabama Department of Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan. “This is a big deal for Alabama.”

Elton Maddox, president and chief executive officer for Wayne Farms LLC, told the crowd assembled in the feed mill Tuesday that, “A robust local workforce, strong support from the community leaders and businesses in the area and the opportunity to more efficiently provide feed for our company, makes the decision to invest here an easy one.”

Maddox said the company initially came to South Alabama in the 1960s. “We were well supported, well received and that is a major part of why we came back to South Alabama when we had a growth strategy that we’re trying to implement.”

Rivers credited the local workforce for much of the company’s success in the Wiregrass. “There is a great workforce here, one of the reasons we’re able to expand,” he said.

“We’re a vertically integrated poultry business,” explained Frank Singleton, Wayne Farms Communication Director. “We feed them, we grow them, we produce them and we process them for the consumer so this new feed mill will help us in that mission.”

Blankenship called the CSX Railroad a major player in making the project happen and said that a “major facelift” on Country Road 18 is ongoing to handle the expected 200 or 300 trucks each day. The feed mill will include a CSX railroad track capable of handling 90-car trains, as well as a high-speed unloading area.

Wayne Farms LLC is the sixth-largest vertically integrated poultry producer in the United States with annual sales exceeding $1.9 billion. A subsidiary of Continental Grain Company, Wayne Farms owns and operates 11 fresh and further-processed facilities throughout the Southeast, produces more than 2.6 billion pounds of poultry products each year and employs more than 8,900 people.

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