TURNER — Hillandale Farms said Tuesday that it has officially taken over management of the Turner egg farm and has given every hourly worker a raise.

In July, Hillandale signed an agreement to take over the long-term leases for the Turner, Winthrop and Leeds egg farms from Moark, a subsidiary of Land O’Lakes.

Hillandale, a family-owned company headquartered in Ohio, has had a lengthy relationship with egg magnate Jack DeCoster, who still owns the Maine farms but isn’t involved in their operations.

Hillandale and DeCoster were tied to a massive salmonella outbreak in Iowa in 2010 that sickened thousands. DeCoster and his son have been sentenced to three months in jail for their roles in the outbreak but are currently out on appeal.

The Turner farm is the largest egg farm in the state, with 2.3 million chickens. The former DeCoster farms in Winthrop and Leeds closed two years ago. Hillandale has not revealed plans for those farms. 

The company now has 212 Maine employees, the vast majority of whom are hourly workers, and is actively recruiting to get to 250, according to spokeswoman Melanie Wilt. 

Six of the new employees will be added in Winthrop, Wilt said.

In addition to the raises for hourly workers announced Tuesday, Hillandale said its benefit package will meet or exceed Moark’s and that the new company will honor employees’ seniority, recognizing whether they were vested with Moark and continuing that under Hillandale. 

“Providing a good wage and benefits package is important to keeping our employees and their families healthy and happy,” farm manager Skip Hagy said in a news release. “These are local people producing local eggs for our New England customers.”

The lease transfer from Moark to Hillandale triggered a request to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to transfer Moark’s air, solid waste, water and discharge permits to Hillandale. That was under state review as of last month.

Moark had held a long-term lease on the farms since 2011, when it signed a deal with DeCoster’s corporate entities. Under DeCoster, the Turner farm had a long history of labor, safety and animal cruelty violations, paying millions in fines over the years.

“We have received a warm welcome from the team here in Maine, and we look forward to building on what they’ve started,” Steve Vendemia, president of Hillandale Farms, said in a news release. “We have a great deal of confidence in the management team and employees here that they will continue to excel.”

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