At presstime Tuesday, the Herald learned that Water Valley Poultry, LLC, will close on February 1. The plant employs 180 workers and has an average annual payroll of $3.5 million. The company was facing a challenge of investing more than a million dollars for infrastructure improvements while the price of the chicken products processed at the facility has plummeted due to tariffs.
Yalobusha County Economic Development and Tourism District Director Bob Tyler reported county officials planned to meet with the mayor and aldermen during Tuesday night’s city board meeting to coordinate an effort to assist the employees find employment after the doors close at the plant.
In September plant owner Mona Nicholas shared the challenges the plant faces with city officials, explaining that the business had experienced a decline since May due to tariff wars. She explained that China had purchased almost 90 percent of the chickens processed at the local plant. The plant processed spent hens that were egg layers.
She also explained that the domestic market for chickens processed at the plant is primarily for dog food because the meat is tough. Nicholas also explained that the 60s-era plant was antiquated and needed improvements when her company obtained it.
In recent months, the city and poultry plant officials were working to remedy wastewater issues at the plant. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality had put a deadline on the plant for the improvements to be made.