Fertilizer plant sets employee layoffs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 17, 1999

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / November 17, 1999

CONVENT – IMC-Agrico’s Faustina fertilizer plant has shut down its phosphoric acid plant and is not expected to reopen during 2000. This plantjoined IMC-Agrico’s Taft plant in St. Charles Parish, which ceasedoperations in early June, hit by market conditions.

An IMC-Agrico spokesman stated the Faustina plant has an annual capacity of 570,000 short tons. Also, one Faustina granulation train will likewisebe idled until market conditions improve.

St. James Parish President Dale Hymel Jr. said he has not heard specificsabout the exact number of employees being laid off, but that the rumors were in the air for the past three or four months.

Hymel continued that the layoff was already factored into the 2000 parish capital and operating budget for the coming year and that employees of the plant have already cut back on their personal, long-term spending in anticipation.

Timothy Roussel, chairman of the St. James Parish Council and a 28-yearemployee of IMC-Agrico where he works as a maintenance supervisor, commented, “A lot of people are scared. They’re sure their jobs are gone.”Roussel could offer no insight as to exactly when the layoffs would be made, or of whom Roussel did note that much of the lost business was in China, the source of half the industry’s sales, the remainder being domestic.

On the up side, CF Metals in upper Convent has already hired some IMC- Agrico employees and hopes to hire a few more, but “most of the industries are taking a beating,” Hymel said.

“St. James Parish is in some dire need of some good news,” the parishpresident added.

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