Sonstegard Foods, headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is hoping to greatly expand its egg business by building a new layer farm near Parker, South Dakota. If realized, the farm would enable the company to more than double its total number of laying hens.
"We've been talking about building another chicken farm for five years," Peter Sonstegard, the company's vice president of sales, told the Argus Leader. "We've looked at buying some other companies, we've looked at buying some other farms and we've come to the conclusion that we're better building it ourselves."
The expansion in Parker would cost $85 million overall, with 18 months separating the initial groundbreaking from the first shipment of eggs, he said. The facilities would include two barns to start with and 30 to 40 employees. Sonstegard hopes to add a barn a year until the facility reaches six million chickens, the Sioux City Journal reported.
There would also be a feed mill, manufacturing facility and two sheds to store dry manure – which would then be sold as fertilizer.
Sonstegard Foods is the parent company of Sunrise Farms, which has an estimated 5 million laying hens, according to the WATT Global Media Top Companies Database. Sonstegard Foods originated in 1972, and now operates in five states under several names, selling dry, liquid and shelled eggs to grocery stores, schools, prisons, and manufacturing companies.
News of new layer farm gets mixed reviews in Parker area
Several area residents attended a public meeting in Parker on February 16, with some speaking in favor of the farm.
Parker Mayor Ron Nelson said the city has not taken an official position on the proposed farm, but he did say he likes the idea of 155 new jobs and the impact those jobs will have on the local and regional economy.
At the same meeting, some residents expressed concerns about potential odors, but area farmer Shane Merrill said he toured one of Sonstegard’s facilities in Iowa, and he was impressed with its efforts to reduce odors and flies.