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Pa. depot to get cattle feed plant

November 18, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A 90,0000-square-foot warehouse at Letterkenny Army Depot is being converted into a feed manufacturing plant, according to an official with Agway Inc.

Randy Carper, vice president of sales and marketing for Agway and its Keystone Enterprise, said Tuesday the feed plant will begin operations in mid-December and be in full production by the beginning of next year.

Work on converting the warehouse began in September, according to Carper. More than 20 bays have been installed to store the feed ingredients.

"We call it the 'depot,' sort of a feed depot," Carper said, noting the connection to Letterkenny.

Agway's investment in the building, which it is leasing from the Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority, is about $750,000, Carper said. Building a traditional feed plant from the ground up could have cost $15 million or more, he said.

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Carper said most feed plants store ingredients in vertical bins and silos. At this plant, the layout is horizontal, similar to the design of newer plants in the West and another Agway plant in western New York.

"It's not a facility that takes a lot of people to run," Carper said. Once in full operation, it will employ about 10 people earning between $10 and $15 an hour each, he said.

Carper said the mill will market its products directly to dairy farmers, rather than through its chain of company-owned and franchise stores.

"We're approaching capacity at those locations," he said of other mills that serve the area. He said the mill should be able to provide feed at competitive prices to large dairy and beef operations that now mix their own feed.

"We'll also have different ingredients not offered by some mills," he said. Those include byproducts from bakeries, pretzel makers, fruit growers and other food processors. Among them is apple pumice, which is left over from processing apple sauce and cider.

"A lot of those leftover products from the food industry are very useful in feeding cows," Carper said.

Agway is a cooperative owned by 85,000 farmers and operating in 13 Northeastern states, according to Carper. It has 325 company-owned and franchise dealers with sales topping $1.5 billion last year.

On Thursday, the Department of the Army is scheduled to hand over the first 234 acres of 1,500 acres at the depot that will eventually be converted to civilian use.

The authority, created by Franklin County to manage the property, is developing the Cumberland Valley Business Park at the depot.

The Agway mill is part of the first phase of the conveyance, Carper said.

Several other new businesses at the depot are expected to be announced at Thursday's conveyance ceremony, according to authority spokeswoman Deb Garvin.

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