Jackson chamber hosts annual ag tour

Thursday, July 12, 2012
Participants on the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Tour observed operations at Richardet Feedyards in Perry County. (Melissa Miller ~ Southeast Missourian)

For more than 30 years now, the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce's Agri-Business Tour has showcased local farms and manufacturing facilities. More than 100 people took part Wednesday in the annual tour, which included stops at Nordenia USA's Hubble Creek Plant in the Jackson Industrial Park, Richardet Feedyards in Perry County and TG Missouri in Perryville.

"We try to do a little mix with some industry and some agriculture so it's got a little bit of everything for everybody," said Darrell Aufdenberg, chairman of the chamber's agriculture committee. This is his 18th year to coordinate the tour, which he said is the longest running chamber event of this type in the state.

"We are pretty proud of that," Aufdenberg said. The first tour was held in 1979, he said.

The group started this year's tour at Nordenia USA's new Jackson facility, where flexible packaging is made for several agriculture-related products including chicken products, pet foods, lawn and garden products and kitty litter.

Nordenia's new 183,000-square-foot building is now home to all of its bag assembly operations. About 60 employees currently work at the new plant. Its extrusion and lamination processes are still done at its Indian Creek plant, in northern Cape Girardeau County near Procter & Gamble.

Richardet Feedyards in rural Perry County was the second stop on the Agri-Business tour, where participants learned how cattle are cared for once they arrive at the facility from the sale barn.

Richardet Feedyards typically has about 1,000 cattle at any given time, with that number increasing slightly in the fall, said co-owner Randy Richardet.

Workers custom blend feed each day from a combination of shredded hay, grains, soy hulls and minerals. Each cow eats between 25 and 30 pounds daily, Richardet said.

This summer's drought is affecting the cattle industry and Richardet's operation in several ways, he said.

With the recent heat wave, having enough shade and water for the cattle has been critical, Richardet said.

"We don't have a lot of shade in our pastures, so we added some man-made shade trees," he said. Using metal pipes to make a frame that tarps could be stretched across, Richardet copied a design often used in the Western plains states.

Hay has jumped from $30 to $40 a ton last summer to $60 to $80 a ton this summer, he said. With beef producers' input costs going up, some have decided they can't make a profit and are either reducing their herds or selling them off altogether.

"A lot of the older guys are just getting out. It's not worth it for them to stay in it. With the winter coming on, they don't have enough hay to carry them to the winter. They're taking the prices now before they get any cheaper," Richardet said.

The sell off has driven live cattle, those fattened and ready for slaughter, down from about $1.30 per pound earlier this year to $1.19 per pound this week.

With fewer producers in the cattle business, Richardet said those that remain will have to get bigger to keep up with U.S. beef demand.

"Hopefully there will be some younger people get into the business, but to get started in that is very expensive," he said.

Following a lunch provided by the SEMO Cattlemen's Association, the tour ended the day at TG Missouri in Perryville.

In March, TG announced it would add more than 200 jobs as part of an expansion of its chroming operations.

The company received $3.8 million in state economic development incentives for the $38.9 million plant expansion project.

A total of 33,000 square feet of manufacturing space will be added to TG's Plant 3 building. The company currently employs about 1,200 workers at its Perryville site.

mmiller@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent address:

Jackson, Mo.

Perryville, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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