Group objects to Benton County poultry plant expansion | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Group objects to Benton County poultry plant expansion

Posted By on Wed, Dec 20, 2017 at 3:00 PM

click to enlarge POULTRY FACILITY: Simons sketch of proposed plant.
  • POULTRY FACILITY: Simons sketch of proposed plant.
A beaming Gov. Asa Hutchinson was on hand to ballyhoo the announcement of a $300 million Simmons poultry processing plant in Benton County. Turns out not everybody is cheering the facility, which is in line for taxpayer subsidy payments.

The Benton County Planning Board will continue a hearing this evening on the expansion. An ad hoc group, Citizens Against New Simmons Facility, will be on hand to fight.

You can read their full statement here. It speaks of health, air, water, property value, roadway and "peace of mind" concerns.
Simmons Foods isn’t proposing a poultry facility – it’s planning the development of a massive poultry processing facility that will change the quality of life in Benton County. A few basic facts on the proposed Simmons operation:

* The plant will process enough animals to produce a whopping 800 million pounds of chicken per year

* It will operate 24 hours a day with trucks moving on and off the plant site every 6 minutes

* The operation will use more than 12 million gallons of water per week

* It will need a labor force of approx. 1,500 employees, the vast majority being low-wage positions

* There is no current plan to conduct a traffic study or an environmental impact report

* The Simmons plan contains a faulty parking scheme that does not meet Federal safety standards
Stop a poultry plant in Republican-controlled Northwest Arkansas? That would be a surprise. I'm surprised the group didn't also mention Simmons recent run in the news for being accused of using workers from drug rehab programs who receive no pay for their work. Money paid by Simmons goes to the rehab agency.

Here's coverage of debate at a hearing earlier this month.

UPDATE: The planning board approved the permit after debate.

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