SILER CITY – Several local farmers and their farms were honored by a national poultry producer for their productivity and performance. Mountaire Farms, the fourth largest poultry producer in the nation, announced the winners of its annual top growers at a banquet in Pinehurst recently. The event celebrated “those who have significantly contributed to the company's operations across North Carolina and South Carolina,” according to a press release from the company.
The Mountaire Ambassador Award was awarded to Terry Valk of Valk Poultry (Montgomery County). According to Mountaire, Valk went above and beyond to help a neighbor who also raised Mountaire chickens but was struggling with health issues. “Terry looked after the farm as if it were his own and exceeded even our expectations,” said Armando Mirande, Sr. Director of Live Operations for Mountaire. “He made multiple visits to the farm every day for weeks, worked on equipment, and called on other folks to help get the farm up to standards. In a situation like this it is good to have growers like him that you can trust to take care of business.”
The company presented the “Top Grower” awards to farmers who consistently outperform other farms. Six were selected from growers who raise chickens for the company’s Lumber Bridge processing plant, and six who raise chicken for the company’s Siler City processing plant.
The top growers were: Josh Macon from Sunrise Farms (Randolph County), Justin Latham from Latham Poultry (Randolph County), Jay Simpson from Jay Simpson Farm (Randolph County), Bradley Morrison from Speck of Dirt Farm (Moore County), Michael Harris from Julie Harris Farm (Moore County), Kou Yang from Mirkwood Farm (Montgomery County), Terry Locklear from Terry & Sally Farm (Robeson County), Lola Rouse from Princess Ann Farm (Robeson County), Randy Rankin from Hayden’s Farm (Marlboro County, SC), Wendell Locklear from Shanda Kay Farm and Wendell & Connie Farm (Robeson County), and Jace Ward from Jace & Megan Farm (Robeson County) were all celebrated for their excellence in poultry farming.
The event also acknowledged the "Most Improved Growers," who have shown remarkable progress in their farming practices. This recognition went to David Melvin from Israel Farm (Bladen County), Jonathan Scott from Cambyl Farm (Robeson County), John Chisholm from Jeanette Chisholm Farm (Moore County), and Brian Crissman from Crissman Farm (Lee County).
Mountaire's Environmental Stewardship Award winners, acknowledging their commitment to sustainable farming, were also honored. These included Tony Purvis from Walker Hill Farm (Moore County) for the first quarter, Jeff Lucas from Lucas Farm (Montgomery County) for the second quarter, Dustin Morrison from DM Morrison Farm (Moore County) for the third quarter, and Roxana Shepard from Abner Mountain Farm (Montgomery County) for the fourth quarter.
Furthermore, the company paid tribute to their retiring growers, highlighting their long-term commitment and loyalty. These included Ricky McBride from Ricky McBride Farm (Montgomery County) with 23 years of service, David Sullivan from David Sullivan Farm (Richmond County) with 26 years, and Kim Garner (Moore County) with 27 years.
“A common sentiment among all our retiring growers is how much they always appreciated the treatment they received from Mountaire throughout the years,” said Mirande. “It’s always based on fairness and respect and that is why they stayed with us all those years. Our history shows we have had so many more growers migrating from other integrators to us than those we have lost. There are plenty of companies to grow for in North Carolina and this record speaks for itself.
Mountaire opened it $170 million processing plant in Siler City in 2019. The 40-acre complex employs up to 1,250 people and Mountaire’s second in North Carolina behind its Lumber Bridge facility in Robeson County. The Siler City plant has the capacity to harvest 1.4 million chickens each week from over 100 local family farmers. The company also operates two hatcheries in Chatham County which contract with dozens of local vendors for goods and service related to chicken processing.