Wayne Farms is discontinuing the deboning lines at its poultry plant in Laurel, Mississippi. The change will result in the loss of about 500 jobs.

The change is expected to be completed by June.

According to a press release from the company, a shift in customer product requirements prompted the company to realign its production at the facility in Laurel. As part of a long-term agreement, 100 percent of the poultry processed there will be allocated to a single customer. Because of the nature of the arrangement, Wayne Farms no longer has a need for the deboning lines at the plant.

Wayne Farms does not expect this change to involve other portions of the plant, its hatchery and other live operations, its feed mills or its farms. The same volume of birds will continue to be raised and processed.

"In the dynamic and challenging business environment we’re in today, this agreement gives our Laurel facility the production stability that allows us to be competitive in the market. This also forces us to make the difficult decision to eliminate deboning lines that we no longer need,” said Clint Rivers, chief operating officer of Wayne Farms. "We’ve made a large investment in the facility here and in order to maximize that investment for the long term, we look for long-term agreements with business partners. Overall it was a business decision for the long term. Our facility will continue to run, our local farmers and suppliers won't be impacted, and we can help our employees as they look for opportunities in this field or other fields.”

The company stated that it will work to offer affected workers employment opportunities at other Wayne Farms’ locations as well as work with local employment service agencies to coordinate job placement assistance to those impacted by the business decision.

A subsidiary of Continental Grain Company, Wayne Farms is the sixth largest broiler company in the United States.