“Today is a great day in La Paz County!”
That’s how Parker Mayor Dan Beaver described the grand opening and dedication of the grain terminal and railroad line at Rose Acre Farms’ Lone Cactus Egg Farm south of Bouse Dec. 13. The event was marked with a gala celebration whose guests included local and state elected officials and members of the Rust family, the owners of Rose Acre Farms.
Following a presentation inside a new building at the facility, the audience went outside, where the various speakers at the event took turns driving in the “golden spikes” to mark the completion of the railroad line. Later, following lunch, many of the guests boarded a special train brought in by the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad for a tour of the new line.
There was even a switching locomotive painted in a special paint scheme for Rose Acres.
The terminal and line were named after the late Tanya Cecil, the long-time head of the Arizona & California Railroad. Cecil died in 2017. Skip Becker, the president of the La Paz Economic Development Corporation, said she was instrumental in the efforts to get Rose Acres to locate here.
Becker was the Master of Ceremonies. He was the key person in bringing Rose Acre Farms to La Paz County. He worked closely with them and their representatives for more than five years. He stated that, by his own estimate, he had spent over 6,000 hours in the last 63 months helping Rose Acres set up their Arizona operation.
Becker described Rose Acres as a family-owned business for three generations. He praised the woman he called the “family matriarch,” Lois Rust, as an incredible businesswoman. He described Rose Acres’ CEO, Marcus Rust, as a visionary who’s leading the company into the future. Becker said Rust surrounds himself with people who can make that vision happen.
Becker also thanked the Chairman of Rose Acres’ Board, John Rust, and Elias Hendrix, the director of the Lone Cactus Egg Farm. He also praised Chips Everhart, the man he worked with very closely to bring Rose Acres to La Paz County.
When he was researching the company, Becker said he learned that Rose Acres’ employees were proud to work there, and Rose Acres was family-oriented and a part of the communities where they had facilities.
“Rose Acres is part of the fabric of La Paz County,” he said.
Becker offered thanks to a variety of people and organizations he said made it all happen: Arizona Public Service, which sold some of their land to Rose Acres; the Arizona & California Railroad and its parent company, Genesee & Wyoming; Burlington Northern-Santa Fe; the builders of the grain terminal, Summit Livestock Facilities; and the builders of the railroad line, Mountain States Contracting.
He also thanked agricultural engineer Jim Downing, the Arizona Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Arizona Farm Bureau, the La Paz County Board of Supervisors, the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office, the Arizona Commerce Authority, the Town of Parker, and the Bouse and McMullen Valley Chambers of Commerce.
Finally, Becker thanked the La Paz EDC Board for allowing him to run the business professionally.
A parade of speakers followed, including Marcus Rust. He said a company is only as good as the people who work for it.
John Rust praised his brother, Marcus, as an innovator when it came to cage-free designs for their chickens. He said Rose Acres had 1,600 employees in 18 facilities. He added he’s looking forward to working with the A & C Railroad and BNSF.
Penny Pew represented U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar. She said Rose Acres has an excellent reputation and is a great addition to the La Paz community.
State Sen. Sonny Borrelli said Rose Acres was an example of how partnerships and teamwork can lead to development. He said La Paz County was ignored for some time, but that the partnerships were what brought development here. He said family-owned businesses like Rose Acres were the backbone of this country.
State Rep.-elect Leo Biassucci, who was elected in November, offered congratulations to everyone who made this happen. He said companies like Rose Acres make the economy grow. He added their jobs as legislators was to keep regulations and taxes low so the economy could grow.
Mark Killian, the director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture, said he was acting on behalf of Gov. Doug Ducey when he thanked Rose Acres for coming to Arizona. He said the state government has worked to bring business to Arizona, and that rural development can be tough.
Elias Hendrix, the director of Rose Acres’ La Paz County operations, thanked everyone for coming to the event and the employees for their hard work.
David Bentler of Arizona Public Service noted APS sold 3,000 acres to Rose Acres, and he was very glad they did it.
“I love the sweet sound of economic activity,” he said. “I’m very proud to be a small part of this.”
La Paz County District 2 Supervisor Duce Minor remarked this was the single largest economic development in La Paz County since the county was formed in 1983.
The final speaker was Beaver, who thanked Becker for his efforts at bringing economic development to La Paz County. Beaver said Becker is getting noticeable results. Beaver thanked the Rust family for investing in the county and its people. He noted that, many times, rural America has been forgotten when it comes to development.
“This is a great day in La Paz County,” he said. “Make that it’s another great day. I look forward to many more great days to come.”
Rose Acre Farms, which is based in Seymour, Ind., is the second largest producer of eggs in the United States. They employ 1,600 people nationwide. Their Lone Cactus Farm on State Route 72 south of Bouse is the single largest economic development La Paz County has ever seen. The first phase is expected to employ 80 to 100 people. As it stands now, they have five egg-laying houses for almost 2 million chickens. They were recently awarded a Clean Air Permit by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.