By DANIEL LOVERING, AP Manufacturing Writer
Farm equipment maker Deere & Co. said Wednesday it will recall most of the workers it laid off from an Iowa plant earlier this year to start production of the company’s 2010 models.
Deere, based in Moline, Ill., said the 452 manufacturing employees will be recalled to its John Deere Ottumwa Works starting Nov. 30. They are expected to return to work before Deere’s annual holiday shutdown, which starts Dec. 23.
But 78 other workers will remain laid off until market conditions improve enough to warrant their return, the company said.
In June, Deere said it would temporarily lay off 494 of the factory’s workers due to weak demand amid the global economic slowdown. That followed a layoff of 40 employees in April.
The Ottumwa Works, which makes equipment such as balers and pull-type forage harvesters used by hay and livestock producers, employed about 260 salaried employees and 720 wage employees, including those who remain laid off.
Deere, the world’s largest maker of farm machinery, has faced diminished demand amid the economic downturn and lower commodity prices, which affect the buying habits of farmers. In August, the company trimmed its sales projections for 2009, saying it expects the biggest single-year sales drop in at least 50 years, but reiterated an annual profit forecast of $1.1 billion.
In response, Deere has cut costs and laid off hundreds of workers, though many have since been recalled. The Ottumwa recall will be the largest of several over the past four months. Other large machinery makers, such as Caterpillar Inc., have been forced to cut larger numbers of workers because of shrinking demand.
Shares of Deere slid $1.50, or 3.2 percent, to close at $45.42 Wednesday.