* ADM shutters plant in Galesburg, Illinois
* Western Illinois processor had been idle since April
* Export market competition cited as factor in closure
CHICAGO, Aug 23 Archer Daniels Midland Co
(ADM.N) closed its soybean processing plant in Galesburg,
Illinois, late on Monday, eliminating 31 local jobs, a company
spokesman said early on Tuesday.
"Several factors -- including the growing soybean export
market, the increasing cost of beans and a decrease in domestic
demand for soybean meal -- put severe pressure on the
profitability of the Galesburg plant and drove the decision to
close the facility," Roman Blahoski, ADM spokesman, said in a
Profit margins at soy processors have been squeezed by slow
demand for the animal feed soybean meal, both domestically and
abroad. The Chicago Board of Trade board crush BXCc1 is
trading at the lowest level in at least five years.
Meanwhile, export demand for soybeans has grown in recent
years. The U.S. Agriculture Department has forecast about 45
percent of soybeans grown in the United States will be sold to
importers in the marketing year that begins on Oct. 1.
The Mississippi River, the main export channel from the
prime U.S. growing region of the Midwest to the U.S. Gulf
Coast, is located roughly 30 miles west of Galesburg.
Grain terminals along the river bid aggressively to buy
soybeans from farmers. Soybean processors have to pay higher
costs if they want to compete with the export market even as
they discount soymeal in an effort to spur sales.
The Galesburg plant had been idle since April, Blahoski
said. Some of the 31 workers at the processor will have an
opportunity to transfer to other ADM facilities, while
processing operations will be absorbed at plants in Quincy and
Decatur, Illinois; Des Moines, Iowa; and Mankato, Minnesota.
(Reporting by Michael Hirtzer; editing by Jim Marshall)