Chicken Lit 685
By Jim Rodgers, Editor, The Winnsboro News
On the eastern edge of the Winnsboro city limits at a building that was standing empty, a $10-million investment has been made and 25 employees have jobs with hourly wages ranging from $10 to $25 per hour. Texas Sigma Partners, an affiliate of Sigma Agri Science, has made multiple modifications and installed silos at the 50,000 square foot building on All Star Road. All Star Road is the city limits that separates the city industrial park from the rural area whose first neighbor to the city at that location is Winnsboro Livestock, the local sale barn for cattle sales. With future capital projects planned, Texas Sigma Partners plans to eventually employ 40 to 50 at their location.
Ryan Hawkins, who has been involved in Winnsboro life since 2005 and whose wife’s family has been in business in Winnsboro for 40 years, is now the local manager for the local plant, said the goal for this plant is to provide sustainable jobs at a decent wage. Unlike many industries, Sigma has received only $12,500 in grants and offers. The grant was used to fund one-half the purchase price of the sign on the building. Winnsboro city staff responding to a request by The Winnsboro News said that after several hours of searching their records as of Monday, December 13th, no tax abatements nor any local taxing entity money had been offered to Sigma.
Texas Sigma Partners produces what is called a most sophisticated organic fertilizer from chicken litter to answer the needs of backyard gardeners as well as larger producers. Hawkins said that with the world going green and many individuals and families now providing their own food sources at home, Sigma Agri Science uses the technical process of industrial production to process 8,000 tons of chicken litter annually. The batch production allows the local plant to contract with packaging-brands to provide the product in large box stores, in dollar stores, and in farm stores. Hawkins says people love the product.
The raw product of chicken litter is supplied to the local industry by Coleman Farms’ 1.6 million birds on a farm near Bogata, Texas. When the egg plant was built in the Red River County town just north of the Red River and Franklin County line, Coleman Farms began looking for local people to process the litter into a value added product once it is run through the granulating process that can be shipped anywhere. Currently the product is being shipped to area stores as well as foreign countries.
Environmental agencies prefer the plant method for distributing raw materials such as chicken litter. Alan Warren with Sigma noted that water sources, such as streams and ground water sources are protected. He said runoff from land where litter or manure is used to fertilize can be a problem as well as the litter leaching through the soil to the underground water source. The Environmental Protection Agency and Texas Environmental Quality Control monitor the amount of tonnage and time operating of the local plant and have permitted the plant. The Texas Air Quality Commission has also responded to complaints but have found no problems nor levied any fine(s).
Hawkins said local social media and one nearby business has protested the industry’s presence. He said he has met with the individuals who own the local business. The local business is located next to the city industrial area. Within line of sight from the protesting business is a plant that produces butter and dairy products, a large dairy farm with silage storage area, the cattle auction facility that pens cattle throughout the week on site, and the chicken litter processing plant. Hawkins said that the silos installed at the local site have relief valves to maintain pressure. When the pressure builds to certain levels, the relief valves release the pressure. Hawkins said that with 25 people on site at the plant no one has ever been sick from materials used or the brief pressure relief. Two large compressors maintain the air volume for the plant.