ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County is for the birds, according to a presentation by Martie Butler.
During Monday’s monthly public meeting of the board of commissioners, the county’s economic developer laid out the facts and figures from the agricultural sector of the county, partially gathered from the 2012 USDA Agricultural Census published in February of this year.
“Richmond County is sixth in state poultry production,” she said. “Perdue is Richmond County’s largest private employer with 1,090 associates and a $28 million payroll at its poultry processing facility.”
In February 2013, Richmond County’s unemployment rate was 12.8 percent. In a report released Wednesday by the N.C. Department of Commerce, the unemployment rate this February is at 8.9 percent. With high numbers like these, despite the noticeable decline, every job in Richmond County is important in lowering that rate even further. The poultry industry’s role in providing jobs to residents is an impressive one.
Leslie King, Perdue’s human resources manager, spoke of the company’s turnover rate for the past year and its commitment to a strong presence in the community.
“We have definitely maintained and kept our turnover at goal, which is less than 35 percent,” she said. “Right now we are adding 47 positions to our first shift. We are hiring for those right now.”
King encourages anyone interested in the positions to fill out an application.
Butler’s presentation rounded up the impact of poultry in Richmond County In 2012, 34.2 million head of poultry were raised on the county’s 277 poultry farms. The average-sized farm represents $800,000 in housing and equipment investments and more than $160,000 in yearly gross income.
County extension director Susan Kelly writes in an article from last year that “Richmond County has a stronger agricultural industry than 75 percent of the rest of the counties in North Carolina, a state where agriculture is the most important industry at $70 billion.”
Kelly invites the producers and residents seeking research-based education and technology to contact the Richmond County Cooperative Extension Office at 123 Caroline Street in Rockingham, or by calling 910-997-8255.