[caption id="attachment_221591" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Mountaire Farms has bought 167 acres of land for $8.5 million, with plans to develop a feed mill and bring scores of jobs to southern Delaware.| DBT PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING[/caption]
BRIDGEVILLE — Mountaire Farms has finalized the purchase of 167 acres of farmland near the intersection of U.S. Route 113 and Route 404 for a future feed mill with grain packing and storage, bringing about 80 permanent jobs to the area.Mountaire finalized the sale for the land for $8.5 million, buying two adjacent parcels owned by TREW R2 LLC and Newton Farms, LLC on Nov. 13. According to state records, those liability companies trace back to Miller Metal and O.A. Newton, both landmark businesses along that corridor.For the past year, Mountaire Farms has been working on seeking approval for the feed mill, planned to produce 30,000 tons per week. With at least six large silos, the mill will have the capacity of 3 million bushel storage and is planned to hold around 100 rail cars with rail running through the southern edge of the property, according to plans filed with Sussex County.It’s estimated that 500 jobs would be created during the construction of the feed mill and at least 84 permanent jobs once operational.Plans also show a warehouse, pallet anex, a tank farm and a load out area where local farmers and Mountaire trucks can receive grain. The Sussex County Planning Commission and County Council approved rezoning the land to heavy industrial in April and the county Board of Adjustments granted a special use exemption for the feed mill in August.“The project is still very early in the planning stages and will need to go through all the appropriate engineering, design, and regulatory steps prior to starting construction,” Mountaire Farms spokeswoman Catherine Bassett told the Delaware Business Times. “There is no timeline yet when, or if, it would be built. More details will be announced as it moves forward.”As the poultry industry celebrated a century in business on the Delmarva Peninsula, the proposed feed mill represents a modern investment in Delaware’s prominent food product. Ingredients for chicken feed, like corn and soybean, are delivered to the feed mill by rail or trucks to be ground and mixed by machines. After being mixed, it’s shaped into various-sized pellets to make it more dense and easier for the chickens to eat more feed in less time. After it’s heated and bound into pellets, the feed is sorted and stored into feed bins.Mountaire’s proposed feed mill in Bridgeville is modeled after its award-winning operation in Maxton, N.C., which produced more than 1 million tons in 2021 and is designed for an expansion to produce more than 2 million tons per year.Delaware’s prime crops are soybean and wheat, with 158,000 acres of harvested soybean alone that generated $92 million in production, per the state Department of Agriculture 2022 report. Delmarva companies purchased $1.6 billion dollars of soybeans, grains and other feed ingredients last year and there are 1,334 farm families contracted to raise poultry on the peninsula, according to the Delmarva Chicken Association.The Delaware Department of Transportation estimated that the traffic impact would be minor with more than 500 vehicle trips per day, but less than 2,000 vehicle trips per day. There would also be 24/7 operations, but Mountaire’s preliminary plans have that the production would be held on five or six days of the week.
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