Suspended indefinitely – that’s what’s happening to Cavendish Farms potato farming operations in the Star City.
“There’s gonna be jobs lost in the community, there’s gonna be revenues lost in the community..the upside is they’re going to keep their land,” said Presque Isle director of development and planning Ken Arndt.
Thirteen total jobs will be impacted by this decision. According to officials at JD Irving, employees were notified earlier this month. Arndt says Cavendish owns thousands of acres of land – not all in Presque Isle. The suspension comes as a result of market conditions. Director of Development and Grower Relations for the Maine Potato Board Tim Hobbs says this affects more than jobs and land.
“Hate to see less acreage because that impacts your infrastructure, your equipment dealers, your fuel dealers, those associated with the industry and just the talk out around about that is not a positive thing,” said Hobbs.
Company officials confirmed that the land will not be sold and will be retained if market conditions improve. Hobbs says that’s a good thing. He says for now – the land will be seeded down and kept into grain rotation. The Fort Fairfield and Houlton Cavendish fertilizer companies will not be affected. Arndt says Cavendish had plans to build major potato storages on the P.T. farm on route one this summer and that won’t happen now.
“Those will not be built which means that capital investment will not occur in the city and so there’s lost opportunity there,” said Arndt.
Company officials also told NewsSource 8 that employees have been provided with standard severance packages..and the company is working with Human Resources at other operations in Aroostook County to see if the skills and experience of the farm employees might suit hiring requirements at other operations like the new sawmill in Ashland that will open this summer.