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Brodhead plant cuts 60 jobs
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BRODHEAD - Kuhn North America announced Friday it was laying off 60 workers, effective immediately.

"The current difficult economic times and a reduced production schedule requires less manufacturing capacity and therefore less people," President and Chief Economic Officer Thierry Krier said in a news release.

He said farm equipment managers began to see a decline in the farm economy in late 2008. The company cited declines in farm commodity prices, and lower-than-anticipated farm incomes as reasons for a decline in retail sales produced.

"These declining factors have all deteriorated very rapidly since Jan. 1," he said.

In 2007 and 2008, the company saw growth in the farm economy. Additions were made to the plant in Brodhead and several new employees were hired.

Kuhn North America is North America's largest manufacturer of mixers and manure spreaders, and also supplies hay and forage tools. The company employees about 500 people in North America.

The company's products are sold in more than 80 countries. It has five factories in Europe, one in the United States and one in Brazil.

Krier was not available for comment Friday.

The Kuhn North America layoffs are the second big economic hit in Brodhead of the new year. On Feb. 5, Woodbridge Corporation announced it was closing the foam-seat line at the Brodhead plant by April 10, affecting about 65 jobs. The Department of Workforce Development now lists the Woodbridge line closing as affecting 99 jobs.

Workers losing their jobs will be entering a Green County economy that in January jumped to a jobless rate of 8.1 percent, up from 5.5 percent in December 2008 and up from 5.0 percent in January 2008.