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Archive for Wednesday, April 25, 2001

Cargill Inc. to close Topeka flour mill, two others elsewhere

April 25, 2001

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Cargill Inc. announced Tuesday it would close three flour mills, including one in Topeka because of rising energy and transportation costs.

The closure makes the north Topeka plant the third flour mill to be closed in Kansas in the past four months. Kansas is the nation's leading flour producer.

In addition to the Topeka plant, Cargill also plans to close two other flour mills in Jacksonville, Fla., and Springfield, Ill. by May 31, the company said.

"Our customers require us to be very cost efficient in providing their needs," said Guy Shoemaker, president of Cargill's North America Flour Milling business.

"Unfortunately, over-capacity in the milling industry coupled with location disadvantages, rising energy and transportation costs make it impossible to continue supplying customers efficiently from these mills."

About 80 workers in the three mills will be affected, including 20 employees in the Topeka facility, said Greg Lauser, a Cargill spokesman.

Cargill's north Topeka mill produces 65,000 hundredweight per day most of it for the bulk export market for hard red winter wheat flour, Lauser said.

"General over-capacity throughout the flour milling industry combined with transportation costs are a factor," Lauser said.

Justin Gilpin, project coordinator for the Kansas Wheat Commission, said the Topeka plant had been a direct receiver of Kansas wheat.

"It sounds like a business decision, but it is always a disappointment when the end user for agriculture products is diminishing," he said.

The Cargill closure marks the third mill to be closed in Kansas in recent months. Archer Daniels Midland of Decatur, Ill., closed its Buhler flour mill in December and its Inman mill in March.

Cargill plans to keep open its south mill plant in Topeka, which has 90 employees, Lauser said.

The two Topeka plants were built in the 1890s. Cargill bought the Kansas plants, plus another in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1982 from Seaboard Milling.

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