2005 Honorary Degree
Joe S. Hatfield
Joe S. Hatfield has distinguished himself in animal science and food science as one of the worlds largest integrated poultry producers.
He is currently the chairman and chief executive officer of Fieldale Farms Corporation, headquartered in Baldwin, Ga. His corporation feeds 27 million birds daily, producing more than 800 million pounds of chicken annually.
A native of Mt. Juliet, Tenn., Hatfield started his college career at the University of Tennessee before joining the Navy in 1941 in the V-12 Program to fight in World War II, serving in the Pacific as a ship navigator for two years. After the war, he enrolled at Purdue and completed his bachelor of science degree in agriculture in 1947.
Early career opportunities with Wilson Meat Packing Company, Gainesville Fryer and the Ralston-Purina Company allowed Hatfield to join Lee and Tom Arendale in purchasing the Poultry Division of Ralston-Purina in 1972 to form Fieldale Farms.
Under Hatfields leadership, the operation expanded into one of the major poultry corporations in the nation, employing approximately 4,500 people throughout Northeast Georgia. It currently consists of four hatcheries, two feed mills (one is the worlds largest, privately-owned feed mill), four processing plants and a quality control laboratory.
Fieldale Farms has developed a commitment to quality that has led to the companys success and a source of pride for employees. The emphasis on quality begins with the production of feed and continues throughout the hatcheries, broiler houses and processing facilities.
Hatfield has given considerable time and talents to many industry-related organizations while also serving in his community.
He has been president of the Georgia Poultry Processors Association and the National Broiler Marketing Association and currently is the president of the National Chicken Council. He has served on the Brenau University Board of Trustees since 1987 and is chairman of the board of the Northeast Georgia Medical Center Hospital Authority, having been on the board since 1980.
In 1995, Hatfield was honored by the Georgia House of Representatives for his professional and community contributions.