About 400 residents of attended an informational meeting on September 2 to learn more about a proposed Sanderson Farms chicken processing plant in Cumberland County, North Carolina. While some attendees showed up in protest, Sanderson Farms and local government officials reassured that if the proposed plant were to become a reality, it would benefit the community.

“We are a public company, and we cannot be in the public eye, as being a nuisance to the community,” Pic Billingsley, director of development and engineering for Sanderson Farms, told those in attendance. “If we are not an asset to the community, I don’t want to be a part of this company.”

According to the Fayetteville Observer, officials from the state agriculture and environment departments attended the meeting to answer questions about how poultry farms and processing plants are regulated. The meeting was organized by the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. Fayetteville is the county seat in Cumberland County, and the proposed plant is to be located at an empty industrial park outside of Fayetteville.

Residents expressed concerns about water quality, feathers and truck traffic. Billingsley said some of those concerns would not be at issue, because most of the farms would be closer to Kinston, North Carolina, were Sanderson Farms has a feed mill and plant.

Chris Bostock, past chairman of the chamber’s economic development alliance, said chamber members were initially skeptical, but after taking a tour of the Kinston plant, feed mill and hatchery, they realized a Sanderson Farms complex would truly benefit the community.