ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) - Farmers in North Alabama are dealing with an apparent mixed bag. We've learned most crops in the area are doing quite well right now. The rain North Alabama received earlier this month turned out to be a blessing for most corn growers. However, we've also learned North Alabama farmers are losing one of their bigger suppliers. Southern States is closing eight North Alabama locations. The company says it's part of a significant new growth strategy.
It might have been a headache for most of us, but the July 4th rain turned out to be very beneficial for area farmers, according to Charlie Burmester, Alabama Extension Agronomist. "These rains in early July really hit it at just the right time so it should be a good year," Burmester said. But it may be a busy growing year as farmers search for other sources of materials they need to run their farms.
Southern States announced this week they are closing their North Alabama co-ops. The company has been supplying farmers for some 90 years. Employees at Southern States in Limestone County said all questions from the news media were being referred to their corporate offices. We spoke with a former employee who told us it was really a great place to work, good people. He says so many of the guys who work here now have been here for a number of years and he worries where they will be able to find work next.
Southern States will close a total of eight facilities in North Alabama. A release from the company explained they will draw their resources in to focus on high-potential agricultural markets in other parts of the country.
Burmester says that in no way should be interpreted as a reflection on farming in North Alabama. "We've had more choices and more competition and I think what you're seeing here is some competitors have won out over some others," he explained for WHNT News 19.
Southern States will close their North Alabama facilities as of July 25th. A company spokesperson says in all 120 jobs would be lost, including approximately 70 here in North Alabama.