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Deere layoffs now reach nearly 2,000 across Illinois and Iowa

“It’s tough to see anybody lose their job,” said Marion Calmer, on Deere & Company’s layoff plans.

EAST MOLINE, Illinois -

The sluggish farm economy continues to hurt the local workforce.

Deere & Company plans to lay off another 120 workers from its Harvester Works in East Moline.

The indefinite layoffs will take place on September 6, 2016.

It now puts some 2,000 Deere workers on layoffs in Illinois and Iowa.

Inside a family business in Alpha, Illinois, Deere's downturn also hits close to home.

"It's tough to see anybody lose their job," said Marion Calmer, a Henry County farmer and inventor who opened Calmer Corn Heads in 2005.

The company makes specialty parts to improve harvesting.

But new sales are nearly cut in half this year.

"Deere is very important to a business like us," he said.  "They are very important to American agriculture."

Friday's announcement offers no projections for Deere employees to return.

"It affects everybody," he continued.

That's tough on local companies that supply parts or service products from the ag-giant.

"When production levels are dropping below average, then these smaller companies that were producing extra parts -- they're just not needed any more," Calmer said.

It's not a surprise for those in agribusiness.

At Deere & Company's annual meeting in February 2016, shareholders learned that sales will likely drop by over $2 billion this year.

That's forcing layoffs to meet product demand.

"The company isn't able to control what's out in the environment," former Deere CEO Robert Lane said at the time.  "But it can respond well."

While a bumper crop can help to make up for low corn prices, companies depending on Deere are also learning to adapt.

Calmer is adapting by selling replacement parts to farmers.

That's helping to keep its staff of 30 in place.

"We'll get geared up for the next upturn that will be coming along," Calmer said.

In the cycles of the farm economy, Calmer thinks that could take up to three years.

"We feel like we're an asset to John Deere, and they're an asset to us," he concluded.

They'll be working together for the long haul.


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