JEFFERSON, Ohio — The Jefferson Feed Mill in Ashtabula County will close this fall, according to officials with Centerra Co-op.
The Centerra cooperative was formed this spring when Town and Country Cooperative merged with Western Reserve Farmers Cooperative. The feed and ag services cooperative maintains operations in northcentral and northeastern Ohio.
In a letter to customers, Centerra cited the looming cost of upgrading the facility to meet new federal food safety standards, and poor profitability, as the reasons.
Bill Rohrbaugh, vice president of feed operations for Centerra, said the cooperative faced a minimum of a half-million-dollar improvement project to meet the new Food Safety Modernization Act policies that were enacted in 2011.
The estimate could have pushed closer to $1 million if additional improvements were made, such as updates to the electrical system and the mixer unit.
“The profitability of that location has been such that our board of directors just felt that they couldn’t make a sound business decision” by spending that much, Rohrbaugh said.
The announcement was made July 18, about four months after the Centerra merger was completed.
Rohrbaugh said that closing a feed mill “is an emotional thing,” as people get attached to their local mill, and they depend on it for their farm needs. But he said even without the merger, he thinks the mill would have faced the same fate — because the expenses are just too high to justify.
“I’m very sympathetic to that. I understand what they’re going through,” he said. “As tough as it was, this had to be the decision that was made.”
About a half-dozen employees worked at the Jefferson mill. Rohrbaugh said Centerra will try to find them other positions within the cooperative.
Centerra is also planning to continue a number of services at the Jefferson location, even after the closing date in mid-September.
According to the letter to customers, the mill plans to continue receiving grain on a seasonal basis. Centerra is also working on a plan to continue providing feed to the area from the Sterling Feed Plant in Wayne County, the Orrville Purina Plant, also in Wayne County, or from the cooperative’s various farm stores.
Rohrbaugh said he was not aware of plans to close additional locations.
On July 7, Centerra announced a new partnership as a cooperator of the grain facility at Gene Cooper Farms, of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. This expansion was billed as a way of providing additional grain marketing opportunities for farmers in western Pennsylvania.
The following are some additional details about the Jefferson Feed Mill, provided to customers in a letter from Centerra:
- An exact closing date is still being determined, but will be sometime in mid-September
Once the mill closes, you can call Pam or Scott at Sterling or your Centerra feed nutritionist, Andy or Kelly, to schedule all feed (bulk and bag) deliveries. Sterling’s phone number is 800-331-2625.
- Centerra will continue to deliver bagged feeds such as milk replacers and supplements from the Jefferson location. There will be no walk-in sales.
- Centerra will have its in-house Centerra brand swine, beef, sheep, goat, and chicken feeds available at the Jefferson farm store, just around the corner from the mill.
- Centerra will be offering a feed bin program to customers to make deliveries cost effective. The company requests a 3-ton minimum bulk delivery with advance notice.
- Fertilizer will not be available at Jefferson this fall. The decision has not been made as to whether Jefferson will offer fertilizer in the spring.
- The Jefferson location will no longer be selling off-road dyed diesel at the Jefferson location. Lubricants will be available at the farm store.
- Those who have grain in grain bank at the time of closing will be given the following options: Pick up the grain (all load-out charges will be waived), sell the grain, or leave it in grain bank if you are getting feed from the Sterling Plant.