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By Julie Ingwersen and Michael Hirtzer
CHICAGO, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Several soy processing plants in the western U.S. Midwest were idled amid a slow start to the soybean harvest, trade and company sources said on Thursday.
Two Cargill Inc plants, located in Kansas City, Missouri, and Wichita, Kansas, were shut down, along with an Archer Daniels Midland facility in Deerfield, Missouri, the sources said.
Separately, a Bunge Ltd soy processor in Emporia, Kansas, that has been closed since the spring will restart next month, after it receives enough freshly harvested beans to crush, a spokeswoman said.
The Kansas City soy plant was closed Sept. 19-22, according to a Cargill website, while the sources said the Wichita and Deerfield plants are idled now.
This week's schedule for the Kansas City plant was "to be determined," the website said.
An ADM spokeswoman had no comment. A spokesman for Cargill could not be reached for comment.
The U.S. soy-crushing pace has slowed in recent months following a harvest shortfall last year due to the historic Midwest drought. In addition, strong export demand from China helped drain old-crop U.S. soy inventories to a nine-year low this summer.
As a result, livestock and poultry producers, exporters and other buyers of soy products are anxiously awaiting fresh supplies from the 2013 crop.
The current soybean harvest is later than normal following widespread planting delays last spring. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's weekly crop progress report showed the soybean harvest was 3 percent complete as of Sept. 22, lagging the five-year average of 9 percent.
The USDA said the Kansas soybean harvest was 1 percent complete and Missouri's had not begun. A year ago the Kansas harvest was 5 percent done and the five-year average was 2 percent, while Missouri's harvest was 4 percent done last year and the five-year average was 2 percent.