Hampton Farms to build plant in Southampton County

Published 10:47 am Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hampton Farms will be relocated to the former International Paper Converting Innovations Center

Hampton Farms will be relocated to the former International Paper Converting Innovation Center

FRANKLIN—Hampton Farms plans to bring 60 new jobs to the area at an average salary of $33,400.

The company, based out of Severn, N.C., will produce peanut butter made from the peanuts grown in the Virginia-Carolina Peanut Belt. The company will occupy a former paper sheeting plant that was built by the Union Camp Corporation, and later operated by International Paper west of the Route 58 Bypass on Armory Drive. Production start up is planned for July of next year.

While the plant is located in Southampton County, it is in a revenue-sharing zone with Franklin, so the estimated $841,517 of tax revenue over 10 years will be shared between the two jurisdictions. The company plans a million dollars in real estate improvement plus $5 million in production equipment.

Hampton Farms remains a family-owned descendent of Severn Peanut Company, a firm that dates back over a half century to the mid 1940’s and, along with Meherrin Agriculture, now the parent company, coordinates closely with farmers who actually produce the crop.

“Hampton Farms and Severn Peanut Company of Severn, N.C., are pleased to become a part of Southampton County and the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Dallas Barnes, president of Hampton Farms. “We believe the relocation to Southampton/Franklin will be a great fit for Hampton Farms and affords Hampton the benefits of immediate and long- term expansion.”

Chairman of the Southampton County Board of Supervisors Dallas O. Jones said it was good to get a company like Hampton Farms.

“For more than 60 years, we’ve admired their growth from a small, local peanut sheller to leading roaster and number one brand of in-shell peanuts in the country,” said Jones. “They’ve built their business the right way, with a strong reputation for honesty and integrity, and we are honored to partner with them on this latest expansion.”

Governor Bob McDonnell said Virginia successfully competed against North Carolina for the project, and he welcomed Hampton Farms to Virginia.

“We are thrilled that, as part of its regional corporate growth, Hampton Farms chose Virginia,” McDonnell said. “Southampton County is the perfect fit for the company’s needs, offering an existing building that allows great speed to market, and abundant national resources for its product.

“It is gratifying that a region that is recovering economically will gain 60 new jobs, and a strong Virginia sector will be utilized.”

Jim Cheng, Virginia secretary of Commerce and Trade, said Hampton Farms is a great addition to the Commonwealth’s food and beverage industry.

“Southampton County will benefit from new jobs and investment, and the company is able to take advantage of the infrastructure in place that put Virginia ahead of the competition,” Cheng said.

The company operates an integrated system from peanut seed to the harvested crop, working with farmers who grow the product under contract with the company. After harvest, the peanuts are converted to finished products such as peanut butter and snack peanut products, currently with plants in Massachusetts, and Severn and Edenton, N.C., as well as Portales, N.M., in the heart of the Valencia peanut area. The Franklin-Southampton facility will be added to the list.

Markets for Hampton Farms products are nationwide.

Peanut Growers Cooperative Marketing Association (PGCMA) director Dell Cotton reported Southampton farmers planted 6,824 acres of peanuts in 2012, and their neighbors in Isle of Wight planted 3,345 acres. Practically all of these are planted under contract with users, including Hampton Farms, who produce peanut products for sale.

Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc. played a big part in bringing Hampton Farms here. Barnes said that FSEDI and Southampton County government were important in bringing the company here.

“Ms. Amanda Jarratt of FSEDI and Mike Johnson of Southampton County’s administration have been instrumental in handling all of the many details,” Barnes said. “Their quick response and willingness to work with Hampton was obvious.”

FSEDI Board chairman Warren Beale noted that Southampton was once the largest peanut-producing county in the nation and the advent of the new facility was an important continuation of the old tradition of a great product from a great agricultural community.

“This is a fitting reuse of the former International Paper Company Paper Converting Innovation Center and represents a further diversification of our local economy,” Beale said. “The Franklin-Southampton community is in the process of redefining itself and this announcement contributes to the strengthening of our local base.”