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Feed-Rite Closes Two Mills In Manitoba

“It’s definitely going to impact us.”

– JAKE GOERTZEN, MANITOU MAYOR

Alarge Canadian livestock feed company is closing two of its five operations in Manitoba, partly because of the downturn in the hog industry.

Feed-Rite will shut down feed mills in Manitou and Arborg at the end of July, throwing approximately 30 employees out of work, the company announced June 21.

Feed normally manufactured at the two plants will now be processed at facilities in Winnipeg and Brandon, said Bruce Campbell, corporate secretary for Ridley Inc., which owns Feed-Rite. The company will continue to operate another plant at Grunthal.

“After an analysis, we determined that we could make feed more cost-efficiently at those locations,” Campbell said from company headquarters in Mankato, Minnesota.

“The production from those can be concentrated and we can reduce our costs overall as a result. That just makes good business sense.”

Campbell acknowledged difficult times in Canada’s hog sector was a reason for the closures but stressed it wasn’t the only one.

“The economic environment in Canada has been very, very tough for everybody. Certainly the hog producers have experienced a worse condition in the last while. I can’t say that it did not have an impact. But really the basis for the decision is to improve our cost efficiency.”

Campbell would not say if the Manitou and Arborg plants, both more than 20 years old, were losing money, nor would he indicate if the company plans to close other feed mills in Canada. Besides the

five facilities in Manitoba, Feed-Rite owns two facilities in Alberta, two in Saskatchewan and one in southern Ontario.

The Manitou and Arborg closure will affect farmers who sell grain to the mills. But producers who buy feed from those plants shouldn’t be inconvenienced because much of Feed-Rite’s products are delivered directly to farms by contracted haulers, said Campbell.

Fifteen workers at the Manitou plant will lose their jobs when it shuts down, said Jake Goertzen, the town’s mayor. One of the casualties is also a town councillor.

“It’s definitely going to impact us,” Goertzen said. “It’s not going to be good if we’ve got 15 families looking for jobs. There’s not 15 jobs in town here, that’s for sure.”

Feed-Rite is the third largest employer in Manitou after the school division and the local hospital, said Goertzen.

The district has a number of hog operations, as well as several large broiler and layer operations, he said.

Another 15 jobs will be lost when the Arborg mill closes, town officials estimate.

The closure of the two Feed-Rite plants comes as no surprise to other Manitoba livestock feed companies.

“The hog industry in Manitoba lies in ruins,” said Ron Friesen of East-Man Feeds in Winnipeg.

Friesen said East-Man used to have 257 hog farms east of the Red River as customers. Now there are only seven left and some of them are considering closing their barns.

East-Man will close its Steinbach office, which once controlled 30 per cent of the company’s business, on July 1. [email protected]

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