Mushroom execs review plant site

By John L. Braese

The Enterprise

VALE – The management team of a Canadian mushroom facility was in Vale on Friday looking over its new acquisition.

Executives of Farmers Fresh, a commercial mushroom producer based in British Columbia, toured their new property located at the corner of Frontier Lane and Foothill Drive accompanied by state officials, Vale city representatives and Greg Smith and his staff from Malheur County Economic Development.

“The fact we purchased the land, at a substantial amount of money, shows our interest in coming to Vale,” said Andrew Truong, project manager for the company.

Those looking for construction equipment at the land may have to wait. Farmers Fresh is in the final stages of a n expansion at its facility in Canada, one that is taking up much time and effort.

“We should be done by January or February,” said Truong. “Our goal for the Vale facility is to produce our first crop by 2019.”

The expansion in Vale is going to take some assistance, according to Smith.

“We need Governor Brown to remember her promise to Malheur County,” Smith said. “Her staff have been excellent to work with so far, but we need the financial part of this to work.”

Truong said the corporation is not expanding into the Vale area just for economic reasons.

“We love this town and have enjoyed the full support of the community,” he said. “We are not just opening a mushroom facility. We want to be part of this community and give back.”

On the business side, Truong said opening a plant in Vale stabilizes areas the company already serves.

“Without some financial incentives, it is hard to commit to the expense we are putting up for this project,” he said.

Farmers Fresh is asking the state for grants and incentives including possibly the state paying to send a group of new employees to Canada for initial training.

“We typically only tackle one project a year. With Vale now on the schedule, we are looking at three major projects in one year.”

The group met with city and state officials on Friday and continued with discussions on Saturday trying to clear hurdles.