Cargill closing Carthage shortening plant

Kevin McClintock

About 25 to 30 employees of the Carthage-based Cargill shortening plant will be without jobs when the facility shuts down at the end of the year.

“The employees at the Carthage plant have worked hard, and we recognize and appreciate their commitment and years of service,” Mike Venker, president of Cargill Dressings, Sauces and Oils, said in a statement. “We made every effort to make the plant profitable and keep it in the community, but could not continue to operate it at a financial loss.”

Company officials flew down from Minnesota to meet with Carthage employees on Friday, spokeswoman Nicole Reichert said. Operations will be moved from Carthage to a similar facility in Charlotte, N.C.

Employees of the River Street plant will “be offered transition and outplacement support” once operations cease in December, according to the parent company’s press release. Cargill will also seek to “place interested, qualified employees in other positions within the company.”

Closing the shortening plant will not affect operation of the company's poultry plant in Carthage, according to Cargill.

Carthage Chamber of Commerce President John Bode said they will do all they can for the displaced workers.

Cargill is just one of several large companies that comprise Carthage’s economically important agriculture sector, which also includes ConAgra Foods and Schreiber Foods.

The Minneapolis-based Cargill employs nearly 160,000 in 67 countries. They have regional plants in Wichita, Kan., and Topeka, Kan., as well as Siloam Springs, Ark., and Springdale, Ark. They operate 13 Missouri plants, including Charleston, Columbia, Kansas City and Marshall. On Monday, the company released first-quarter 2009 earnings, which exceeded $1.49 billion.

Cargill is a private company. Were it a publicly held company, it would rank in the top 20 companies on the Fortune 500 list.

Carthage Press