A group of buyers has offered to purchase a Pilgrim's Pride poultry processing plant in El Dorado, Ark., that is scheduled to close in May, according to published reports.

Gov. Mike Beebe told a group of 250 workers and community members Tuesday night in El Dorado that it could be an "uphill battle" to make the sale. But the governor said those interested in purchasing the plant had experience in the business. Beebe declined to offer any specific details about the group, other than to say they had been working on their offer for about five months.

Ray Atkinson, director of corporate communications for Pilgrim's Pride, told WATT Poultry e-News that no meaningful offers have been made on the El Dorado plant.

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Commenting on the governor’s remarks, Atkinson said, “The idling of the El Dorado plant, together with those in Douglas, Ga., and Farmerville, La., is part of our ongoing effort to reduce costs and operate more efficiently as we reorganize the company under Chapter 11. These plants have been a significant financial drain on the company. To date, we have not received any meaningful offers on the El Dorado plant. In addition, selling the El Dorado facility at this time would not address the fundamental problem facing our industry: an oversupply of low-value commodity chicken.

“We understand the effect these actions will have on employees and growers in El Dorado, and we sincerely wish they were not necessary,” said Atkinson. “However, we are taking these decisive steps now in order to protect more than 40,000 employees and 5,000 growers of Pilgrim's Pride as we work to restructure our business and ultimately emerge from Chapter 11 as a stronger and more efficient company.”