Willmar Poultry Company to close Marshall hatchery next month

MARSHALL – Willmar Poultry Company, dba Ag Forte, has announced it would close the Marshall hatchery sometime next month.

WPC is an affiliate of Life Science Innovations.

“Sustained high commodity prices and turkey cooler inventories will present significant challenges to our customers for 2013, which directly impacts our breeding and hatchery business,” the company said in a press release. “Our industry is cyclical in nature, with years of contraction ultimately following years of growth. Ag Forte understands this cycle and has proactively prepared for the current downturn to maintain our business and operational efficiencies.”

The Marshall facility is dedicating to producing turkey breeders rather than turkeys for immediate consumption, according to communications director Jenn Baumgartner,

According to Rick VanderSpeck, president and CEO of Ag Sector, Life Science Innovations, the hatchery was originally built by the Swift company, which owned the Butterball Turkey label at the time, and was built sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s. WPC acquired the company in 1989.

VanderSpeck said there has been no decision at present as to the final disposition of the building and expects to leave the equipment in place for the foreseeable future.

“If and when the equipment is removed, we most likely will then put the real estate up for sale,” VanderSpeck said.

The Marshall facility has 10 full- and part-time employees, some of whom, according to Baumgartner, have worked for the company since it was owned by Swift.

According to the press release, company representatives will meet with employees in the coming weeks to discuss placement and severance options.