Valley Wide Cooperative has announced plans to close its only grain and feed mill in Preston, Idaho, in September due to a dramatic decrease in feed sales.
The co-op, headquartered in Nampa, Idaho, has 24 agronomy locations, 18 retail stores, 15 propane plants and a feed center. It serves farmers, ranchers and growers in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
According to reports, the cooperative sent a letter to members in early August in which David Holtom, CEO of Valley Wide, stated consolidation in the industry cut its feed business to one-third of what it once was.
“We have seen a dramatic decrease in feed sales that has made the continuation of grain and feed operations impossible,” Holtom wrote in the letter. “This dramatic decrease in sales has forced the difficult decision to discontinue operations in the Preston feed mill. This will be effective for purchasing and storage of grain and the production of feed.”
Not long after the merger between Franklin Grain Growers and Valley Wide, a fire took out the Preston flour and feed mill and the company decided to rebuild. Holtom noted many of the dairymen that used the facility have gone out of business. After the Whitney storage building, which stored barley, suffered a collapse, the company had to reevaluate its place in the feed business.
“Recently, the Whitney storage building suffered a wall collapse, and we find ourselves at a similar crossroads," Holtom said in the letter. "Unfortunately, I feel the choice of whether to continue in the feed business or not has already been made.”
The Preston feed mill and grain facility will cease operation on September 30 and will not accept any grain from harvest this year.
Holtom said the grain bank will continue to store feed up to one year. It will have the ability to transport, within 40 miles, the grain to a processor or storage/grain bank of a farmer’s choosing any time during that 12-month period.
The closure will impact about a dozen full- and part-time employees. According to one report, the company is trying to find other positions at Valley Wide for them if possible. If not, they will be given a severance.