Peterson Farms to Sell Broiler Operations

Peterson Farms of Decatur announced Tuesday that it has begun negotiations with Simmons Foods of Siloam Springs for the sale of its integrated broiler operations.

Negotiations are under way and are projected to be finalized in July, the company said.

In a news release, Peterson Farms cited rising poultry business costs as the reason for severing its broiler operations.

Details of the negotiations were not available.

The release noted that Peterson Farms CEO Blake Evens conducted a national search before selecting Simmons as the operations acquirer.

"Simmons Foods is known for its pursuit of efficiency and quality using lean (chicken)," Evens said. "I'm confident that together we can make this a seamless a process as possible for our people."

Both companies are privately owned. In May, Arkansas Business estimated that Peterson Farms had 2007 revenue of $128 million and was the 51st largest private company in the state. Simmons Foods reported 2007 revenue of $652 million and landed as the 12th largest private company in the state.

Peterson's broiler operations produce about 5 million pounds of chicken every week. Products are sold to the retail and foodservice industries throughout the nation.

Peterson Farms is owned by the Evans family of Decatur. Three members of the family were directors for ANB Financial NA, which failed on May 9.

Victor Evans, former CEO of Peterson Farms, owned 14.47 percent of the bank, and Debra Evans, daughter of Peterson Farms founder Lloyd E. Peterson, owned 14.09 percent of ANB.

Blake Evans, grandson of Peterson, owned about 1.06 percent.