Other Graves County businesses grow with Pilgrim’s poultry plant expansion

Many businesses are benefiting from Pilgrim’s poultry plant in Graves County, Kentucky. On Friday the company announced that a $24 million expansion will create more than 150 jobs, with 141 designated for people in Kentucky. The expansion will also boost business for local farmers.

"They’re going to take the dollars that they’re earning off the barns and more corn we sell, so it’s going to go right back into the economy here, so it’s going to help out a lot," said Graves County chicken farmer Justin Ralph.

Ralph and his brother built chicken barns on their farm almost 10 years ago to make some extra money.

"It’s helped out drastically," he said.

Ralph says he didn’t realize then raising chickens would become his main source of income.

"We’re able to pay for our barns, as well as make a living and support our families from the barns. I mean it’s been, it’s been great," Ralph said.

All of Ralph’s chickens supply Pilgrim’s. With the expansion, the brothers are expanding their operations too, building 12 new barns in addition to the eight they already have.

"We’ve been wanting to build more barns, and we waited for this expansion and it gives us perfect opportunity," Ralph said.

The profits don’t stop there for this family. Ralph says with the expansion Pilgrim’s will have to buy about 2 million more of bushels of corn from local farmers. 

His uncle Richard Riley grows and hauls corn to Pilgrim’s feed mill.

"I’m glad for it, because it can’t be anything but good for farmers," Riley said.

Riley says farmer’s biggest challenge will be keeping up with the demand.

"They’re going to need more bushel’s, so it’s got to come from somewhere," he said.

Justin Ralph says he hopes to have the 12 new barns built by the end of this year. Local farmers are building a total of 80 new barns for the expansion.

Graves County Economic development estimates it will bring $50 million to $75 million into the local economy.

Pilgrim’s is already accepting applications for the new positions. If you’re interested in applying head to careers on the contact page of Pilgrim’s website, and search for jobs.

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