A USDA loan application for a proposed chicken farm near Goldston in Chatham County has been withdrawn, raising questions of whether the enormous operation will be built.
Policy Watch learned of the withdrawal after asking the USDA for its final environmental assessment of the project.
That assessment was being prepared, but will not be completed now that the agency is not backing the loan.
The USDA representative said she could not provide a copy of the withdrawal request because of privacy reasons.
Because of restrictive state and federal disclosure policies, the farmer’s name was redacted from public documents. However, some of the redactions were poorly done, revealing the farmer’s name as Kyle Jackson Fields.
He already raises more than 100,000 birds in three barns on nearby Bear Creek Road for Mountaire Farms, according to Chatham County property records.
Fields was seeking a loan to build four barns, each 66 feet by 400 feet, and capable of holding 40,000 broilers each, which he would also raise for Mountaire. The company has a large slaughter facility 10 miles away in Siler City.
Because the farm would rotate its flocks, Fields could have raised as many as 750,00 broilers each year.
The USDA’s Farm Service Agency is in charge of the loan. The amount is not specified in public documents, but federal policy caps guaranteed operating loans at $1.75 million. The USDA offers FSA guaranteed loans to lenders that work with farmers who can’t borrow from conventional banks.
The farm would have been built on property owned by Watson Place, LLC, whose manager is State Sen. Tom McInnis of Richmond County. Most poultry farms in the state aren’t required to register or obtain a permit from the NC Department of Environmental Quality, so it’s possible that the farm could still be built, but without a federally backed loan.