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US: Fertilizer plants shut down

Blytheville Chemical Plant to Shut Down in May

MARCH 31, 2004 - Posted at 11:22 a.m. CDT

BLYTHEVILLE, AR - The Terra Nitrogen Company says it will shut down its production facilities at Blytheville by May 31. The plant that turns out nitrogen fertilizer products employs about 75 workers.

The company said in a news release today that the production facilities will be prepared for permanent closure after the shutdown. Terra said storage and distribution facilities at the site will be used as a terminal for ammonia produced elsewhere.

The release said company officials had concluded that expected markets might not justify the investment needed to keep the plant running. The company cited continuing high prices for natural gas needed for the production process, and competition from imports.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Mississippi Chemical Closes Melamine/Urea Operation

Mar. 31, 2004

Mississippi Chemical Corp. announced the permanent closure of its melamine and urea operation and its No. 1 ammonia facility, all located at Triad Nitrogen LLC in Donaldsonville, La. The company will continue to operate its No. 2 ammonia plant in Donaldsonville as swing production, operating as needed based on customer demand and market conditions.

The company says that securing a stable customer base with profitable pricing has been difficult in the current marketplace, and ammonia market conditions continue to be adversely affected by natural gas fluctuations. The company has initiated efforts to locate a buyer for its melamine business and related assets.

Mississippi Chemical Corp. is a leading North American producer of nitrogen and phosphorus products used as crop nutrients and in industrial applications.

Source: Company Release

Farmers, ranchers, and agri-businesses feeling effect of high costs

By LYNN MONTGOMERY | East Texas Edition

April 1, 2004 -- As fuel prices continue to rise, many avenues of the everyday lifestyle will be affected.

Farmers and ranchers are already feeling the effects as planting season and calving season are under way.

"I haven't gotten any feedback from the farmers, but I know it has to be hurting them, because it's killing me," said Fannin County Extension Agent Ricky Maxwell.

Maxwell explained he is driving 30 miles, every day, to check bred heifers. "Those miles add up."

Gas prices are causing some companies like M-G Inc., a farm service center, in Weimer to raise wholesale prices. "We tried a fuel surcharge but the customers wanted it built into their cost," said Bobby Wick.

M-G Inc. also has a poultry distribution center which caters to fast food and buffet-type restaurants.

"We have had to cut down on some of the trips (to the restaurants) and consolidated in some areas. Because of the fuel cost, prices are going up on the menus the restaurant," Wick added.

Affects of rising fuel costs are also being felt at Producer's Cooperative in Bryan.

"Farmers are only buying in small amounts (of diesel fuel). Instead of filling up their tanks, we are only putting in a third to a half tank; (then) we have to go back in two or three weeks, which is costing the farmer more," said Preston Ruffino, petroleum manager at Producer's.

Other avenues that farmers will see a rise in cost is fertilizer.

"Fertilizer is high because the East Coast used so much natural gas during the hard winter," commented Dan Kelley of Kelley Farms Agri in Bogata.

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