Martin's Abattoir and Wholesale Meats Inc., a Fayatteville, N.C., beef processing plant that employed 180 people, has closed. A lack of affordable supplies of cattle forced the closure, reports the Fayetteville Observer.

The company will pay the laid-off employees and maintain their insurance coverage for 60 days, said Jeffrey Martin, director of operations. The insurance might be extended through the end of the year, he said. Martin’s father, Carlton Martin, opened the plant in 1958 and built it into one of the top 20 cattle processors in the U.S. At one time, the company ranked among the 100 largest privately owned businesses with headquarters in North Carolina.

Now 78, Carlton Martin still works every day.

"He said he wasn't going to lose everything he'd worked for the last 60 years," his son said.

The fate of the shuttered plant is uncertain. Martin said while the property has gotten some interest, nothing has been decided. The company’s pork processing plant in the area remains open.

More cattle are being sold to feedlots where they're fattened for sale, and to larger processors who can pay more, said Deanna Wagner, a livestock agent with the N.C. Cooperative Extension in Lexington. That's further squeezing the overall supply. The USDA reported placements in feedlots were down 11 percent in August.

Some smaller stockyards, including a few in the North Carolina mountains, have been forced to close as producers take their herds to larger marketplaces, Wagner said.

Source: Fayetteville Observer