|Vol. I, No. 1, Summer 1987|
Among other claims to fame, the Ozarks is now noted for having America's largest farm, at least in terms of gross sales.
Springdale, Ark. - based Tyson Foods Inc., with more than $1.5 billion in 1986 gross sales, was No. 1 in Successful Farming magazine's ranking of the top 400 U.S. farms. The magazine's January 1987 report, which ranked the farms based on phone calls to owners and research into industry averages, discovered that a combined total of $22 billion, a sixth of the nation's gross farm income, is produced by the top 400 farms.
Tyson's multi - state hog and poultry operation consists of 6,000 contractor family farms that bring in about 13 million chickens and 10,000 hogs a week to be slaughtered. Tyson's chairman of the board, Don Tyson, believes the contracting system helps support the farmers as well as provides the company with the best products. He anticipates that upgrading the value of Tyson's products and meeting consumer needs will add 10-percent-per-year growth to the company for the next five years.
Despite its size, Tyson Foods is listed as a family farm because the Tyson family controls more than half of the operation's stock. Successful Farming defines a family farm as one in which the daily management and functioning are directed by the operator and his family. More than 95 percent of the top 400 farms are considered family farms.
The second largest farm was poultry producer Perdue Farms, Salisbury, Md., with $840 million in 1986 sales, followed by four more operations with major interests in the poultry business -- Holly Farms Poultry of North Carolina, $800 million; ConAgra of Nebraska, $675 million; Cargill of Minnesota, $676 million; and Gold Kist Inc. of Georgia, $659.5 million.
These and 106 other poultry businesses, producing chicken, turkey or eggs, dominated the rankings.
Completing the top 10 on the list are FJ Gallo Winery of California, $645 million; Granada Corp. of Texas, $625 million; Lykes Brothers Inc. of Florida, $600 million; and Castle and Cooke Inc. of California, $590 million.
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