Louisiana's poultry industry brought roughly $1.6 billion to the state's economy in 2010, up 80% from 2009's $884 million.
This number, due in part to increased exports to Asia, helped Louisiana's agricultural economy recover to $10 billion in 2010, up 20% from 2009's $8.3 billion, according to John Westra, a Louisiana State University economist. The state's poultry is shipped frozen from Gulf Coast ports to Asia, and as incomes rose in those countries the demand for the product rose worldwide, helping farmers recover from 2009's increase in the cost of chicken feed.
A Foster Farms chicken plant in Farmerville, La., which the company purchased from Pilgrim's Pride in 2009, also contributed to the recovery. Pilgrim's Pride initially closed the plant, resulting in the loss of 1,300 jobs, but Foster Farms reopened it in July 2009 with about 650 workers; it now has 1,322 employees and processes 900,000 birds each week, according to company spokeswoman Lorna Bush.
DG Foods Ltd. of Hazlehurst, Miss., has begun hiring for a Bastrop, La., chicken processing plant slated to open in July with 317 workers.