August 23, 2011 / 2:50 PM / 6 years ago

ADM closes soy processor in western Illinois

* 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 (Reuters) - 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 statement.

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)

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