Networking Helps Producers Diversify with Perdue
June 10, 2019
Featured Writer: Carrie Bomgardner, Marketing Manager
For Perdue Mountain Valley Breeders, a division of Perdue Farms, Inc., networking, not advertising helped the company meet their poultry breeding house expansion plans. With breeder barns established near their headquarters in Baker, W.Va., “We first advertised in a few local West Virginia counties without much response,” said Forrest Alderman, Regional Breeder Manager.
With Perdue’s acquisition of Coleman Natural Foods, Alderman decided to explore the area north of Cumberland, Md. “We preferred to source fertilized eggs closer to our former Coleman Natural Meats plant in Pa. We wanted to grow our production to support it,” said Forrest.
“We also knew there was not much commercial poultry production in Morrison’s Cove, Pa., making it an ideal location from a biosecurity standpoint,” Forrest noted.
“I looked for the closest Farm Credit office in the area and made a cold call,” explained Forrest. “Dan Brogdon, AgChoice executive loan officer, was at the Martinsburg office that afternoon. He listened to our needs and thought he knew of a few people we should talk to about barns.”
After visiting with some local farmers who wanted to learn more about the project, Dan helped the Perdue team set up an informational meeting at the AgChoice office.
Laverne Nolt and Vernon Garman were two local farmers that attended that meeting.
“My wife Frances and I had been farming since 2004 with 9,000-square-foot greenhouses growing hanging baskets and vegetables and also owned a greenhouse irrigation business,” said Laverne. “Together, with our four children, we were looking for an opportunity to increase our cash flow, throughout the winter.”
In October of 2013, Laverne, an AgChoice customer-owner, said yes to the Perdue building project and began the permitting process.
“Our farm is in an exceptional high quality watershed,” said Laverne. “It made working with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in Harrisburg extremely challenging. It would be months of review on our permits.”
During this process, “I had our DEP guy on speed dial! I must have called him almost every other day,” Laverne said.
“Perdue was very patient with us during this project,” noted Laverne. “It was more than two years of waiting on permits.” On February 11, 2016, they received the final 300-page permit and started construction. The first birds arrived on August 9.
While Perdue didn’t meet their original deadlines with Laverne’s barn, they recognized the extra time required for the high quality watersheds. “We want to be responsible members of the community. We don’t want to jeopardize our natural resources,” Forrest explained.
Neighbor and brother-in-law Vernon Garman, a crop farmer, decided to build a Perdue breeding house in the fall of 2013. With permits approved one year later, the first birds arrived to Vernon’s new barn on March 12, 2015.
“I was the first Perdue breeder barn in Morrison’s Cove,” Vernon said. “It’s been a learning process ever since. Approximately 3.5 million eggs later, I’m still learning!”
As the pioneer in the group, he shares his experiences with Laverne and the other local growers. “While we all came from farms, none of us had a poultry background,” explained Vernon. “We work together and compare notes.”
When reflecting on this project, Vernon thinks it’s important to review the pros and cons with a lender. “You should definitely make sure this is what you want to do,” he said, noting it’s a large financial investment. A new AgChoice customer with this construction project, Vernon is thankful for Dan Brogdon. “He throws out ideas and leaves the decision to you,” he said. “He’s always available to answer questions.”
“I honestly enjoy being in the barn and it’s a great place for Louise and I to raise our two kids,” Vernon continued. “It’s a nice family business and Perdue has been a great company to work with.”
For Perdue, the feeling is mutual. “We got very lucky in dealing with great folks, like Dan, Laverne and Vernon,” said Forrest. “We look forward to continuing our relationship.”