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Foster Farms to reduce growers

FARMERVILLE, La. — A California-based poultry company that recently took over a closed Louisiana processing plant with assistance from the state says it will not extend contracts to all of the plant’s former growers.

Foster Farms agreed to buy the shuttered Pilgrim’s Pride poultry processing plant in Farmerville for $80 million, with Louisiana contributing $50 million of the purchase price and another $10 million for equipment upgrades.

The company’s director of marketing services, Ira Brill, said in a statement that independent growers had been providing chickens to both the Farmerville plant and another now-shuttered Pilgrim’s Pride plant in Clinton, Ark.

"As Foster Farms brings the Farmerville plant up to full capacity, it expects to extend contracts to the vast majority of Louisiana growers, but the regrettable fact is that this single plant cannot fully accommodate a grower base that was previously supplying two plants," Brill said.

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North Dakota calf losses hit $30 million

BISMARCK, N.D. — An Agriculture Department official says calf losses to North Dakota ranchers hit by flooding and blizzards are estimated at about $30 million.

Agriculture Department Undersecretary James Miller said ranchers should be getting disaster payments in mid-July.

Officials have estimated the flooding in March and April, after late-winter blizzards, killed about 90,000 cattle in the state, including about 72,000 calves.

Miller joined Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., at a hearing on the issue last week.

Turkey plant worker sentenced for animal cruelty

LEWISBURG, W.Va. — A worker at a West Virginia turkey plant has been sentenced to a year of home confinement for stomping on a bird’s head and slamming another to the ground in abuse caught on video.

Edward Eric Gwinn was also fined $1,000 and ordered to have no contact with domestic animals by a judge in Greenbrier County.

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Gwinn and Scott Alvin White were indicted on felony charges in February, but each pleaded guilty to two animal cruelty misdemeanors in April. White was sentenced June 8 to a year in jail but can petition for home confinement. A third man’s criminal case is pending.

The men were videotaped last fall by an undercover operative of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals at an Aviagen Turkeys Inc. plant in Lewisburg.

The three men have been fired.

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