WALHALLA, N.D. (AP) -- Archer Daniels Midland Co. is closing its ethanol plant in the northeastern North Dakota city of Walhalla in April, putting 61 people out of work.
The Illinois-based agribusiness conglomerate said it will provide severance packages and give the workers opportunities to apply for jobs at other company facilities, but Walhalla Mayor Christopher Jackson told WDAZ-TV that the loss of jobs will hurt the city of about 1,000 people.
"It is a big hit to the community just because of the number of people that work there, and they've worked there a long time," he said. "Anytime you lose that number of jobs in a community our size it's going to be hard."
ADM has not said what it will do with the plant when it closes. U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., on Tuesday said he spoke with a company vice president about the possibility of working with state and local developers and private investors to keep the plant operating under new ownership.
"Our primary concerns are first to make sure that employees are taken care of and second, that the company work with us to try and find another company to resume production at the facility," Hoeven said.
The plant opened in 1985 as Dawn Enterprises. It changed hands twice in the late-1980s and early 1990s and has closed and reopened several times throughout its history, its fate tied to fluctuating gas prices and various subsidies and tax incentives, the Grand Forks Herald reported.
Company spokeswoman Jessie McKinney said the closure of the plant is not tied to the expiration last year of a federal tax credit for the corn-based fuel.
"ADM determined that the Walhalla facility was not delivering sufficient returns because its geographic location and scale made it difficult to compete in the marketplace," she said.
The Walhalla plant has the capacity to make about 30 million gallons of ethanol fuel per year. McKinney said customers will be supplied through other ADM plants in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota.
"This closure is to optimize our U.S. corn processing operations," McKinney said.
ADM announced last month that it planned to cut 1,000 jobs, or about 3 percent of its total workforce, as it navigates a volatile global market for crops.