It was VIP time July 21 at the Rose Acre Farms egg-laying facility being built south of Bouse. A delegation featuring U.S. Rep Paul Gosar (R, Ariz.) and State District 5 Rep. Regina Cobb toured the facility, which is currently under construction.
They toured Farm No. 1, where the buildings for the chickens are currently under construction, and Farm No. 2, where the land has been cleared and the pads have been built. Rose Acre Farms CEO Marcus Rust was on hand to explain the operations and answer any questions.
When completed, it’s estimated the facility will house three million laying hens and will provide 80 to 100 jobs that would include comprehensive employee benefits. In addition to the layer farm, there will also be a pullet farm, a rail spur and a feed milling operation. The investment in phase one of the facility is estimated at $80 million.
The tour group included the State Veterinarian, Dr. Peter Mudschenk, who represented the Arizona Department of Agriculture. This was his first visit to the Rose Acre Farms facility. Keith Watkins, Senior Vice President and Economic Rural Development Director for the Arizona Commerce Authority, was also on hand. David Bentler of Arizona Public Service was also on the tour. APS sold the land to Rose Acre Farms for the facility. This was Bentler’s first visit to the site since the groundbreaking in June 2015.
The tour was hosted by Skip Becker, Director of the La Paz Economic Development Corporation, and Rose Acre Farms. They hosted a tour for Arizona Agriculture Director Mark Killian and his staff in May.
The tour began with Becker giving an update on the progress of the project since 2013. When they visited Farm No. 1, Rust gave everyone a close-up look at how the facility would operate. He said they will have four houses, each with approximately 370,000 birds. They will keep the birds cool with a cooling system that will keep the temperature at 78 degrees even on days when the outside temperature is 120 degrees.
Becker said the site had everything they needed, including railroad access via the Arizona & California Railroad, electricity and water. He praised the A & C Railroad and APS for their participation in the project.
The visitors were impressed.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Gosar said. He added that many egg producers are looking at Western Arizona so they can be close to the California market.
“Arizona is very close to becoming the egg capital of the world,” Gosar said.
Gosar said he was particularly impressed with how everything will be utilized and re-utilized. As an example, the chicken manure will be used for fertilizer.
The facility is perfectly situated as there are no migratory bird flyways nearby, Gosar said. This will lessen concerns over diseases like the avian flu.
Cobb said the facility is much bigger than she thought it would be.
“I’m very impressed,” she said. “We’ll see if we can help out with some incentives from the state.”
“It was a fantastic day, just being able to bring all these people together,” Becker said.
The President of the LPEDC, Roberta Hoffman, acknowledged there have been many false starts to development in the county.
“This is real,” she said. “This is going to be great for La Paz County.
Rose Acre Farms is based in Seymour, Ind. They are the second largest egg producer in America. One of the brands they market under is Eggland’s Best. They currently produce a wide variety of egg products, including shell eggs, cage-free eggs, organic eggs, vegetarian-fed eggs, liquid eggs, dried eggs and egg protein powder.
The plans for the facility were announced in October 2014, when the deal for Rose Acre Farms to buy 2,600 acres from Arizona Public Service was announced. The facility consists of two farms, both of which are currently under construction south of Bouse on State Route 72.
Arizona Agriculture Director Mark Killian and his staff toured the facility in May.
“We’re very excited to have Rose Acre Farms in Arizona,” Killian said. “It’s an incredible facility that shows food safety is a priority. They’re able to keep the eggs safe while the chickens are free to move around in the cage-free design.”
Chips Everhart, new projects coordinator of Rose Acre Farms, said they expect to have hens laying eggs at the facility by the end of 2016.
Rose Acre Farms will be holding a job fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, July 28, at the La Paz Career Center, 1113 Kofa Avenue, Parker. For more information, call 928-669-9812.