Livingston

Here’s why Foster Farms will be adding new jobs at its Livingston chicken plant

Foster Farms employee’s protest for better wages, affordable insurance, new contract

Employees at the Foster Farms Livingston chicken plant protested on Thursday, April 27, 2017, for better wages, affordable insurance and a new labor union contract. (Monica Velez/mvelez@mercedsun-star.com)
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Employees at the Foster Farms Livingston chicken plant protested on Thursday, April 27, 2017, for better wages, affordable insurance and a new labor union contract. (Monica Velez/mvelez@mercedsun-star.com)

Foster Farms on Thursday announced a multimillion-dollar capital investment project to support an expansion and upgrade of the company’s poultry processing facility in Livingston.

The company that supports 2,032 jobs in Merced County will expand the facility’s product lines and add jobs, according to a news release. The announcement comes as the company is possibly in discussions to be sold to meat industry giant Tyson Foods, CNBC reported Tuesday.

Foster Farms spokesperson Ira Brill would not say exactly how much the company planned to spend on the expansion, noting the firm is privately held.

“Foster Farms is expanding its Livingston operation to allow for future growth and diversification of our customer mix on the West Coast,” CEO Laura Flanagan said in the news release.

The expansion project is underway, the company said in the release, with completion scheduled for September. State and local leaders worked with the company to offer a $6.5 million economic incentive package.

“This is a perfect example of government working with local business to help keep jobs in the Valley and grow our economic base,” Merced County Board of Supervisors Chairman Lloyd Pareira said in the release.

Foster Farms employs about 12,000 people at poultry plants in Livingston, Fresno, Turlock, Porterville, the Pacific Northwest and the South. Max and Verda Foster started the operation in 1939 and it remains under family ownership.

“The city of Livingston prides itself for having such a dynamic and community-oriented company and we are pleased to see Foster Farms continue to grow and prosper here,” Livingston Mayor Gurpal Samra said in the release.

Neither Tyson nor Foster Farms has confirmed the discussions of a possible sale, referring to the report as a rumor. The cable business network based its report on unnamed sources, who put the price at roughly $2 billion. The two sides disagree on the exact amount, and the deal could fall through, CNBC said.

Foster Farms is one of the largest employers in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. Its hundreds of products include whole chickens and turkeys, fresh poultry parts, ground meat, deli slices, marinated products, frozen patties and corn dogs.

The company has annual revenue of $2.4 billion, according to Forbes.

The Modesto Bee contributed to this report.

Reporter Thaddeus Miller has covered cities in the central San Joaquin Valley since 2010, writing about everything from breaking news to government and police accountability. A native of Fresno, he joined the Fresno Bee in 2019 after time in Merced and Los Banos.
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