Duck farm blames closing on ethanol-fueled cost increases

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

From an article by Michael Burke in The Journal Times (Racine):

YORKVILLE — Maple Leaf Farms blames ethanol production and soaring feed costs for its decision to permanently close most of its local duck-raising operations.

The Milford, Ind.-based company announced Friday that it will close the duck slaughtering and processing operations at 2319 Raymond Ave. (Highway U).

The move will eliminate about 175 of its 210 jobs in this area, the world’s largest producer of duck meat reported. Maple Leaf Farms spokeswoman Nora Macon said the 175 jobs lost will include one at the company feed mill in Burlington and one or two jobs at the hatchery at 24830 Washington Ave. in Dover.

The company said it will shut down its slaughter/processing facility within two months “in an effort to respond to rising feed ingredient and operating costs.”

Macon said those other costs include rising fuel prices. However, the family-owned company primarily blamed ethanol production, spurred by government subsidies, for its decision. Ethanol production has competed for corn, driving up corn prices throughout the country.

“We struggled to make this decision because it is a difficult time to displace any employees,” company Co-President Scott Tucker stated in a news release.

“Unfortunately, we have analyzed the situation, and the only way we can cope with skyrocketing feed costs brought on by the government’s misguided ethanol policies is to cut our own production and consolidate some of our operations.”