Kansas farmers say yes to Tyson

SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Some Kansas farmers are encouraging Tyson officials to invest in a chicken plant in Sedgwick County.

In recent weeks, opponents to the proposed chicken plant have been vocal, holding meetings and protesting Tyson. Those against the company have told KSN they’re concerned the plant could contaminate their water supply, cause home values to plummet, among other things. However, some people have now come forward saying they welcome Tyson and its jobs.

“There’s a lot of good that will come from it,” said farmer AJ Lanier.

“Anyone with the basic knowledge of economics can only see this as a good thing,” said farmer Josh Patterson.

Patterson, who is a fifth generation farmer near Valley Center, said the “No Tyson” group recently approached him.

“She called me wanting me to put up a “No to Tyson” sign in my front yard because she thinks if farmers would put it up it would carry more weight than the city folk,” he said.

Patterson said he then asked the woman representing the “No Tyson” group what research she had done about the proposed chicken plant. According to him, she didn’t have the answers he was looking for. He said he replied by telling her he did not want a sign to for his yard or farm.

“No way and if one shows up I’m always looking for something to start a fire with,” Patterson said.

KSN asked the farmers why they want the chicken plant in Sedgwick County.

“There’s a reason they are looking at South Central Kansas because we have some of the cheapest grain in the state. They are going to buy our grain,” Patterson said. “Now, we have another avenue for marketing our grain. We have Cargill in town who produces bean meal, so it’s a win, a win for Cargill, Tyson and the farmers and the consumer in the end.”

“It will help agriculture, you know, there is a local place for farmers to take grain, another place. It’s an option. It brings more competitiveness to the market,” said Lanier.

Lanier and Patterson also said it’s an opportunity for the county to invest in jobs outside of the aviation industry.

“If you think about it Sedgwick County has put all its eggs in one basket with the aircraft industry for what 50-plus years? Why not diversify?” Patterson said.

Tyson’s chicken plant is expected to bring in 1,600 new jobs to the area. Economy experts told KSN the jobs would benefit the county’s working poor.

“I think what people fail to understand is there are upper management jobs. They are going to spend a lot of money. They are going to buy nicer cars,” Patterson said. “They are waiting for this magical, unicorn job sector to come in. That will never happen. Why not embrace Tyson and pro agriculture for Sedgwick County?”

There are still three counties in the running for the potential Tyson plant. Before any county or site is chose, officials said there will be numerous research projects completed and there will be multiple public meetings for residents to voice their concerns.