More than 175 Townsends Crestwood Farms growers attended the first of several informational meetings on Monday in Siler City.
In these early days after the announcement that Ukrainian business, Omtron, LLC will definitely close the doors of the Mocksville and Siler City plants on October 4th, few concrete solutions were evident, but many are working hard for a positive solution.
One of the first lines of defense is wrongful contract termination litigation. Stephen Schmidly, Asheboro attorney:
“There are other claims that we’re looking at for all the growers. There’s some growers that had flock-to-flock contracts, there’s some growers with no contract. And so, we’re looking to see what claims may be available under the law for all of those growers, because they were all placed in the same boat, without any warning, without any notice, without any idea that their livelihood was going to be ripped out from under them. That’s what happened to all of them.”
While the last chicks were placed on July 29th, Randy Kibbet, growout manager for Townsends says that both plants are still up and running:
“We have wonderful facilities here now. Seven million dollars spent on our processing plant, wonderful grower base. We just got a lot to offer somebody, just hope that somebody will step up to the plate for us.”
Kibbett goes on to say that one offer to buy the plants has already been turned down by Omtron, but there are people working on behalf of the company to hopefully facilitate a sale before operations cease:
“We do know there has been a competitive offer, it was refused. Right now we have an individual with the United States/Ukrainian Business Council hopefully negotiating on our behalf.”
NCDA Marketing Specialist Kim Decker says that there are still financial incentives on the table that Omtron didn’t take advantage of:
“There are some things that are in place that were there for the Ukrainians that they never drew down, from different state agencies and local, state government. There has been some discussion of interest, but really can’t talk about who, what, or where that is or what stage that’s in.”
And as Kibbet pointed out, the goal is to have no interruption in operations at either Townsends plant.
NCDA’s Decker had these thoughts on that possibility:
“Really not going to give you an answer on that. We’re doing everything we can in order to try to make something happen and to resolve the situation. But, there’s too many moving pieces, and too many things have to fall into place for me to be able to answer that question.”
Meanwhile, unless or until a sale of Townsends is negotiated and normal operations resume, the NC Rural Center has retained Vision Credit Education, Inc. to advise farmers on possibilities of debt restructuring. Ken Long, President of Vision Credit Education:
“The farmers that were directly impacted by the plant’s closure are eligible for free, financial counseling. Our fee has been paid for by the Rural Center.”
Long says that there has been some interest his Vision’s services:
“I have had some initial contacts, and a lot of folks are just checking just to get an idea of what it is we do, and we expect a lot more of that to come.”
Ken Long, President
Vision Credit Education, Inc.
3717 National Drive, Suite 217
Raleigh, NC 27612
Attorney at Law
Moser, Schmidly & Roose
19 S. Fayetteville St.
Asheboro, NC 27203