Tyson’s shuttered southeast Missouri plant heads toward a sale


ST. LOUIS — A Mississippi-based egg producer announced Friday that it had reached a deal to buy Tyson’s former chicken plant in Dexter, Missouri, and convert the facility to egg production.

Tyson closed the Dexter site, where almost 700 people worked, in mid-October as the company moved to improve profit margins with a sweep of plant closures across the country.

The company, Cal-Maine, said it had reached a definitive agreement to buy Tyson’s processing plant, hatchery and feed mill in Dexter. The processing plant will be converted into an egg grading facility. A purchase price was not disclosed. 

Dexter City Administrator David Wyman applauded the news. The deal will restore some of the jobs lost to the Tyson layoffs, he said Friday, bring business to some of the farmers who had contracted with Tyson, and prevent the buildings from becoming blighted.

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But it won’t create nearly as many jobs as were lost.

“It’s great for Dexter,” Wyman said. “We’re excited to have them. But as a city, we’re not where we need to be. We need to push forward, and attract new businesses.”

The Cal-Maine site will support about 96 jobs, according to the state Department of Economic Development — a far cry from the 683 who worked there under Tyson’s ownership.

The announcement of the plant’s closure earlier this year was a shock to the city, where 7,900 people live. The site had long provided the area with jobs and tax revenues, and its workers pumped money into the local economy by living and spending inside Dexter’s city limits. Some local farmers had relied on their business with the Dexter plant for decades.

Cal-Maine said that additional investments, beyond those announced Friday, are possible. And the company said it planned to contract with some of the farmers who had relied on Tyson to buy their chickens and grain.

Chickens can only be transported a short distance — both for animal welfare and because the birds are more likely to die on longer journeys. One family of farmers filed a lawsuit against Tyson in August, claiming that because the Dexter site was the only chicken processing facility within 45 miles of the family’s farm, its closure would reduce the value of their operations to “nearly nothing.”

Wyman said the city will continue working to attract another poultry producing company to the area.

“We’re super proud of our town,” Wyman said. But, he added, “we still have a lot of work left to do.”

The deal is expected to close in the third fiscal quarter. The facility is expected to begin operations in the summer of 2024.

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