Brown Urges ConAgra Foods to Preserve Nearly 160 Ohio Jobs at Two Marion County Popcorn Production Facilities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following ConAgra Foods’ recent announcement that it plans to shutter two Marion County popcorn production facilities, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to company leadership urging ConAgra to explore all available options to help save the more than 160 Ohio jobs located at the company’s Marion and Morral plants.

“Ohio workers are second to none in work ethic, productivity, and proficiency,” Brown said. “These employees are among ConAgra’s most competitive assets. That is why I am disappointed by ConAgra’s decision to shutter these two facilities. I urge ConAgra to explore every alternative plan to help save these facilities and the 160 local jobs that depend on them.”

In early June, ConAgra announced it will close its Marion facility in October 2014, followed by its Morral, Ohio facility by the end of June 2015. Brown’s letter to Chief Executive Officer Gary Rodkin points to ConAgra’s commitment to Ohio as a key reason to continue production at both facilities. In 2010, ConAgra moved production of its Slim Jim brand to Troy, expanding the company’s footprint in Ohio to six facilities. Supporting this expansion is the fact that one in seven Ohio jobs are tied to food and agriculture. Brown is the first Ohioan in nearly forty years to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee. 

“Marion County has a rich history of popcorn production and is a point of pride for many locally,” Scott Schertzer, Mayor of the City of Marion said. “The closure of these two facilities hits us hard. I thank Sen. Brown for his efforts to work with ConAgra to explore any additional ways that we might be able to save these plants and our jobs.”

Brown’s letter can be read in its entirety below:

Gary Rodkin

Chief Executive Officer

ConAgra Foods

One ConAgra Drive

Omaha, NE 68102-5001

 

Dear Mr. Rodkin:

Recently, it was announced that ConAgra Foods intends to close two popcorn facilities in Marion and Morral, Ohio, costing approximately 160 workers their jobs. It is on behalf of these hardworking Ohioans that I ask you to reconsider shuttering these two facilities. 

Ohio workers are second to none in terms of their work ethic, productivity, and proficiency and are one of ConAgra’s most competitive assets.  They have also played a strong role in the company’s success, as indicated by ConAgra’s decision to move its Slim Jim production to Troy, Ohio in 2010.

Popcorn production has long been a rewarding activity for local workers and a source of pride for Ohio communities. The Marion Popcorn Festival is said to be the largest popcorn event in the world, attracting roughly 250,000 patrons each year. Organizations such as the Center for Innovative Food Technology and the Ohio Agricultural Resource and Development Center offer exceptional support for continued investment in Ohio. Should ConAgra reconsider these facility closings, you will find an overwhelming amount of support from Ohioans.

ConAgra has long been an important employer in Marion County and Ohio, and I ask that you explore every alternative option that could help save the jobs of these workers. I look forward to working with you to keep the doors open at these facilities and grow your company’s presence throughout our state.

 

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