Large-scale, cage-free egg production facility underway in South Valley

Monday, September 26, 2016
Large-scale, cage-free egg production facility underway in South Valley
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Will house more than three million hens near Wasco

WASCO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A new egg production and processing project is still somewhat under wraps, but construction is already well underway in Kern County.

The facility is located near Wasco, about halfway between Interstate 5 and Highway 99.

"I think I speak for our economic development people to say we're very excited about an industry that wants to come to Kern County," said Kern County Planning Director Lorelei Oviatt.

A Valley Air District public notice states Central Valley Eggs, LLC is proposing to build a 20,000 square foot processing plant, three 77,000 square-foot pullet houses, and seven 61,000 square-foot layer houses. The facility would house more than 3 million hens without cages.

Oviatt says the California egg industry changed in 2008 when voters passed Proposition 2, making it illegal to confine farm animals like hens to cramped spaces. Since then, egg production declined and prices went up.

But in the last few years, Oviatt says a handful of companies have considered Kern County for large scale production facilities to serve California consumers, in accordance with the new rules.

Oviatt says Central Valley Eggs' facility is fully modern and would be one of the largest in the state.

"I think this is an example of an industry listening to what the voters wanted and finding a way to provide a product that humanely takes care of the hens," Oviatt said.

The public notice says there will be at least 50 employees on site.

Oviatt thinks the company will pay well and help fill the state's egg shortage, especially in Southern California.

"I think it's a tremendous contribution to the Valley as far as jobs, and of course taxes, and most of all, apparently, we need more eggs," Oviatt said.

One of the project's partners says they'll reveal more details later this fall.