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Thursday, February 2nd, 2006 -- 12:20 PM

Land O?Lakes, Inc. Wednesday announced plans to close its Greenwood barrel cheddar cheese manufacturing facility. The facility employs thirty people and will close on Februrary 24th.

Company spokesperson Lydia Botham says employees were made aware of the decision Wednesday morning. The closing is the result of a study of market trends and plant capabilities; in short: not enough milk is being produced to keep the plant cost-feasible.

"There is less milk to go into these facilities. It creates efficiency concerns. There are probably more plants than are needed to process that milk," Botham says.

Land O?Lakes is a farmer-owned company and producers are being alerted to the decision. The company has already made arrangements to ship the milk elsewhere-- including non-Land O?Lakes facilities, Botham notes.

"We've already made plans for that milk," Botham says. "It may be other processing facilities that are not Land O' Lakes. It may be Class I markets. There may be a variety of places for that milk to go."

Botham did not know how many producers are affected.

The company planned to meet with employees again Thursday morning and will be offering outplacement services as well as other benefits. Land O?Lakes is believed to be Greenwood?s fourth-largest employer, Botham says.

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