Draper Valley Farms, the Mount Vernon-based producer of free-range, hormone-free chicken, is moving its production and distribution operations out of Renton.

The company this week notified state officials that it plans to close the Renton facility as of Dec. 7, affecting 66 workers.

Joe Forsthoffer, a spokesman for Draper Valley parent Coleman Natural Foods, said the company is taking advantage of an expiring lease on the Renton plant to move its functions closer to the Draper Valley processing plant in Mount Vernon.

While some processing and packaging work is done in Renton — mainly putting weight and price labels on packages of chicken — most of the work there involves shipping chicken out to supermarkets, Forsthoffer said.

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“It is an old facility, and the biggest challenge is that it’s a considerable distance from the (Mount Vernon) processing plant,” he said. “We’re having to take several truckloads of product a day from the processing plant to the distribution center. This will eliminate all those short-haul trips.”

Forsthoffer said the new distribution center is “a hop, skip and a jump away” from the processing plant.

The new center will employ almost as many people, he said, though about a half-dozen jobs likely will be eliminated because some of the old plant’s processing functions will be moved into the main plant.

“We’re hoping as many people as possible will be able to join us in the new location,” he said.

Draper Valley Farms, which was founded in 1935, get chickens from farms as far north as Lynden and as far south as suburban Portland.

Coleman, which bought Draper Valley in 2010, was itself bought by Perdue Farms last year.

Drew DeSilver: 206-464-3145 or ddesilver@seattletimes.com