Pitman Farms of California buys Norbest
San Joaqin Valley company shares values,
business interests with Moroni firm.
By Robert Stevens
Jan. 25, 2018
MORONI—Pitman Family Farms, a family-owned-and-operated agribusiness centered in California’s San Joaquin Valley, has purchased Norbest, the Moroni turkey growing operation, and will run it alongside its current family businesses.
The purchase, which happened at in the first week of January, was a bit of a gamble, but Rick Pitman, owner of Pitman Family Farms, remains positive about the acquisition.
“We appreciate the support of those locally who are helping us to achieve this goal,” Pitman says. “We are third-generation turkey farmers who have also struggled to keep in business. It is a process, so we hope that all involved will be patient with us.”
Pitman Family Farms sell turkey under the Mary’s Turkeys brand. They also market Mary’s Free-Range Chickens, Mary’s Ducks and Mary’s Pet Food.
According to sources who decline to be named, Pitman Family Farms may well have saved Norbest. Messenger sources have been claiming for a while that Norbest was headed for bankruptcy and possibly liquidation. With the help of yet-to-be-identified people connected to the local turkey industry who brokered the deal, the Pitman family decided to take a chance and buy the company.
The top man at Pitman says his goal is restoring the Moroni turkey plant to financial viability and saving the jobs of people who work there.
“Everything happened so fast with our purchase of Norbest that we are uncertain what the future holds for all of us,” Pitman says. “It is overwhelming at this point to say what our plans are for this company.”
He pledged to do his best to turn the company around so families who have raised turkeys for generations and people who work in the company can continue to do so.
The acquisition of Norbest by Pitman Family Farms seems to be a match based on both agribusiness interests and values. The Pitman family are active members of the LDS church. Both Pitman Farms and Norbest have mission statements that emphasize natural, humane farming practices and a healthy diet not polluted by antibiotics.
The two businesses share another commonality: Bad press from radical animal rights activists. Both poultry growing operations have been targeted by Direct Action Everywhere (DxE). The vocal vegan lifestyle advocates sneaked on to both poultry operations and released videos claiming both brands did not practice what they preach when it cames to humane, sustainable poultry farming.
The Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office is investigating allegations the activists stole animals from local turkey farms and may have violated laws against photographing farming operations.
The origins of the Mary’s food brands began when Don Pitman started raising free-range chickens and turkeys in 1954. Don passed his business to his son, Rick, and Rick branded products from the blossoming business with the name of his wife, Mary.
Mary Pitman says she switched to eating pure foods more than two decades ago after she began developing allergies to processed foods. Her healthy eating practices have contributed to the company’s practices, including specializing in heritage poultry, which is touted for its purity, and humane animal treatment.