Processing Conglomerate Cargill To Cut 2,000 Jobs

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Food-industry conglomerate Cargill Inc. said Friday it will cut up to 2,000 jobs to reduce expenses in a weak economy.

Cargill, which has 138,000 employees, said most of the cuts will occur in the next six months.

"These are difficult decisions but are necessary to better position the company for continued growth," said spokesman Mike Fernandez. The company said each business unit made recommendations for reductions, and the cuts were not uniform across all segments.

The privately held Minneapolis company produces meat, grain, food ingredients and other products and services.

This week, U.S. labor regulators moved to cut off federal contracts for the Cargill Meat Solutions subsidiary, charging that the business discriminated against women and Asians who applied for entry-level jobs at a plant in Arkansas. The unit holds federal contracts worth more than $550 million.

The company said minorities make up the bulk of workers at the plant, and it said the government's accusations were based on a statistical analysis of job seekers rather than hiring decisions.

The plant was the source for about 36 million pounds of ground turkey recalled this year after a salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 100 people and was blamed in one death. It is one of the largest meat recalls in U.S. history.

Cargill doesn't report financial results in the same detail as publicly traded companies, but it said in October that fiscal first-quarter earnings fell 66 percent despite a 34 percent increase in revenue. The company was hurt by volatile commodity prices that hurt its trading business, and the sale of a majority stake in a fertilizer maker also reduced profit.