The Chicken, the Egg or the Community of Parker, South Dakota – Which Comes First?
The people of Parker, South Dakota could soon see a population increase of about six million. But not six million people, six million chickens!
Though technically not in the city limits of the southeastern South Dakota town, Sonstegard Foods, a South Dakota based agriculture and egg business is looking to build a massive chicken operation on a stretch of land a little over two miles outside of the town.
Supporters of the chicken operation moving to Parker think the project is good for the state, helping to increase grain prices, supplying a steady source of fertilizer to farmers and eventually employing as many as 150 people.
Those against Sonstegard Foods bringing the chickens near the city of Parker have concerns of odor, flies, additional noise and traffic and pollution. Residents are aware that South Dakota is an agriculture state, but feel the addition of the large chicken operation would do more harm to the community than good.
A petition has already been circulating that will be turned into the county commission with hopes to reject the proposal by Sonstegard Foods.
Even though Sonstegard Foods is a family business, it's a big business that operates in five states under different names. Sonstegard Foods sells dry, liquid and shelled eggs to grocery stores, schools and manufacturing companies.
A representative from the company believes the start of two barns with about 30 to 40 employees will cost about $85 million, with the first shipment of eggs about 18 months after it breaks ground. Additional pullet farms will also be needed to help keep the operation running. Those would be located about seven to 15 miles from Parker.
Representatives from Sonstegard Foods say there is plenty of work that still needs to be done, and it must be done correctly if everyone is going to be accepting of their move into the community.