Sanderson Farms has given more than $1 million to Nash County, N.C., to compensate for the costs of trying to bring a chicken processing plant to the county, and legal action that followed those efforts.
The reimbursement, received in a letter from Sanderson Farms director of development and engineering Bob Billingsley, can be used to restore the county's funds after the nearby City of Wilson and other area residents opposed to the proposed plant sued the county. "Being reimbursed for our legal fees and other project costs was not the outcome we had hoped for; however, it makes the bitter pill of having lost the plant easier to swallow," said Nash County Commissioner Robbie Davis. "This gesture is just another example of what a great company Sanderson Farms is and what an exemplary corporate citizen they would have been in Nash County."
Sanderson Farms announced in November 2012 that the company would withdraw its plans to build a plant in Nash County, citing the legal challenges that could delay the project. Company CEO Joe Sanderson, Jr., said in a December 18, 2012, conference call with shareholders that plans continue to progress with a new plant, though the proposed location has not yet been named.
Meanwhile, Wilson's Mayor Pro-Tem James Johnson III told the Wilson Daily Times he would like to see legislation in North Carolina to regulate industrial poultry farms. The state already has such regulations for swine facilities, said Johnson, who also said he hopes the governing bodies of Wilson and Nash County can bury the hatchet, and is seeking a joint meeting between the two groups.