Cargill announced it will idle soybean processing activities at its facility in Raleigh, North Carolina, "later this spring," but will continue to operate the Raleigh elevator and purchase soybeans from area producers and elevator customers.
Don Camden, a regional manager for Cargill’s soybean processing business, said the elevator will continue to be a "competitive buyer of beans" from farmers in North Carolina and surrounding states and that soybean meal customers will be served by Cargill’s plant in Fayetteville, N.C., in addition to rail shipments into the region from other Cargill plants.
Mark Stonacek, president of Cargill Grain & Oilseed Supply Chain North America, said: "In recent years, demand for U.S. soybean processing has become more variable and seasonally driven." Among other factors, Stonacek cited a downturn in demand for U.S.-produced soybean meal in the face of expected large bean crops in South America. Those factors combined with strong global demand for U.S. soybeans has made operating the Raleigh plant during the spring and summer periods economically challenging. "Cargill will continue to monitor the global situation and will consider restarting the plant if conditions change," he said.
Cargill currently employs 47 people at Raleigh. Camden said 20-25 employees associated with soybean processing will be laid off, although they can apply for openings at Cargill’s 12 other crush plants. "This is an unfortunate outcome for these employees and we will work with them to try to find opportunities," Camden said.
"Cargill will still remain an important buyer of local soybeans by keeping the elevator open and maintaining our regional office," Camden said. "Again, this was a hard decision, but the uncertainty in U.S. soybean crush demand necessitated this difficult decision."