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Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Cooper Farms facility in St. Henry celebrating 20 years

Company is also marking 70 years of business in Ohio

By Nancy Allen
Cooper Farms is celebrating its 70th anniversary, and the company's processing division in St. Henry is celebrating 20 years in the local community.
To mark the occasion, company officials will hold a public open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the plant, 1 Cooper Farm Drive, St. Henry.
Several of the division's products made at the St. Henry facility will be on display and guided tours of the plant also will be given. Visitors will be able to sample for free different Cooper food products and other refreshments.
Opened in April 1988, the St. Henry facility processes about 17,800 turkeys daily into boneless meat and parts for further processing and making into value-added products.
The birds weigh around 42 pounds when they come to the facility and are raised by 150 contract growers in Mercer, Darke, Auglaize, Paulding and Putnam counties in Ohio and in Jay and Randolph counties in Indiana.
The processing facility employs about 500 staff on three shifts. The first shift consists of full production, the second is limited production and sanitation and the third is all sanitation.
The majority of the meat goes to the Van Wert Cooked Meats Division for further processing into deli breast meat and other food items. The company also supplies other major food companies with turkey. The value-added line, which has grown during the past few years, includes several burgers, including two private labels, breast fillets, roasts, sausage links and sausage patties.
Cooper Farms was founded in 1938 by Virgil Cooper in the small northwest Ohio town of Oakwood. Today the company is run by the children of Virgil and Virginia Cooper - Jim, Dianne and Gary. There are now four divisions: the hatchery division in Oakwood, the feed and animal division in Fort Recovery, the processing division in St. Henry and the cooked meats division in Van Wert.
Cooper Farms processes more than 190 million live pounds of turkey a year and is a fully, vertically-integrated turkey farm, meaning the company controls the product from the farm to the market.
Cooper Farms also raises more than 100 million live pounds of hogs each year and produces more than 400 million table eggs a year.
Today Cooper Farms has more than 1,300 employees on staff.
Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Robert Boggs will be at Cooper Farms processing facility in St. Henry on Monday to celebrate the anniversary.
Other local and state legislators scheduled to attend include 77th District state Rep. Jim Zehringer, R-Fort Recovery, state Sen. Keith Faber, R-Celina, and 75th District state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann. The day will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a plant tour followed by a noon turkey lunch at Romer's Entertainment Facility in St. Henry.

Open house for public:
What: 20th anniversary open house at Cooper Farms processing division
When: 1-4 p.m. Sunday
Where: 1 Cooper Farm Drive, St. Henry
Details: Visitors will be able to go on guided tours of the plant and sample some of the division's products made at the St. Henry facility. Other refreshments also will be available.
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