The Renewable Environmental Solutions plant in Carthage is a $35 million facility producing fuel oil, natural gas (used in the plant), fertilizer and minerals using the waste from the local ConAgra -Butterball turkey plant. The plant at peak operation will employ 30 to 60 people and produce 500 barrels of oil a day; current production is 100 to 200 barrels a day. This is a $35 million investment in the community of Carthage that is creating jobs in the town now.
Residents are up in arms and wanting the plant shutdown because, guess what, turkey feces stink. The city is planning to file suit. Apparently the turkeys didn’t stink before. Some of the complaints have come in when the plant was not operating, so there’s a good chance this is just the smell of the existing turkey operation or other industry in the area. According to records from the Sierra Club (pdf file), the turkey plant was cited in 2001 for odor violations and had received at least 12 complaints – prior to the opening of the RES plant.
If the city of Carthage runs this plant out of town, they should be prepared for the consequences of such an anti-business posture. Any business that would consider investing in this small town after such a move would have to be nuts.
And that’s assuming that they can run the RES plant out of town and not have ConAgra close the turkey plant. Given that ConAgra has closed plants in other places in the last several years, that’s probably a bad assumption.
These turkey plants buy poultry from local farmers, but they also package feed purchased locally for the poultry farm operations. According to Henry M. Engster, Ph.D., vice president of technical services at Perdue Farms Inc., “farming is a high volume, low margin business. If restrictions, regulations and other pressures put too much squeeze on those already tight margins, the farmer wonâ€™t be able to stay in business.”