Empire Livestock to close Chatham auction center

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CHATHAM — Empire Livestock will close its doors in Chatham because of changes in the market and difficulties finding workers to fill positions, the facility’s general manager announced Friday.

Empire Livestock has eight locations across the state, including one at 952 Route 11 in Gouverneur, and commands a market share of more than 50 percent of all livestock sales in its operating territory, according to the company’s website.

The company sent a letter to all of its consignors Wednesday, letting them know that the Chatham location at 2249 Route 203 will close May 1. Empire provides a venue for farmers to sell livestock at auction.

“In this ever-changing marketplace, Empire Livestock Marketing continues to look for ways to increase efficiencies and provide value to our consignors, customers and the agriculture communities in which we operate,” said Empire Livestock General Manager Kenneth Krutz. “After evaluating the opportunities and challenges at each of our livestock markets, we have decided to take steps to streamline efficiencies and increase the value we provide our customers.”

The meat industry is evolving, Mr. Krutz said, with new ways of delivering products to customers.

“The beef industry has changed and the competitive nature is driving changes in the marketplace,” Mr. Krutz said. “The Chatham market is in a region where some cattle buyers are able to offer direct pick-up services.”

Mr. Krutz said farmers can use online services to auction their own livestock for direct pick-up from suppliers.

The company also found it difficult to find workers in the area to fill open positions, Mr. Krutz said.

“Additionally, finding experienced and willing employees in the region has been a challenge,” Mr. Krutz said.

“This was a difficult decision, and Empire remains committed to serving farmers in New York and the community,” Mr. Krutz said. “We have worked with current customers to transition them to nearby Empire Livestock Markets to continue to meet their ongoing needs.”

Empire employs a total of 27 workers at all of its auction centers.

“As we look to the future … We remain committed to providing superior service and value.” Mr. Krutz said.

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