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 June 4, 1999

Monfort cuts hurt economy

100. 133. 41. 80.

Those are the cuts, made incrementally, in employment at Monfort Inc. in Greeley during the past month. They total 354 jobs lost in a positions ranging from management to clerical, administrative to production.

Monfort Portion Foods and Fabricated Metal Products both have been closed as Monfort parent ConAgra Inc. struggles to boost profitability under pressure from analysts and investors.

The cuts are indicative not only of a struggling beef industry but also of an agricultural industry that has been hampered by low prices and excessive production.

They’re also a big blow to the Northern Colorado economy, which already is reeling from a series of layoffs during the past 18 months. Most of the cuts have come in the high-tech industry — although there are signs of a turnaround there, or at least a bottoming-out.

But thousands of jobs have been eliminated in this region, perhaps wiping clear the rose-colored glasses of those who believe our economy will forever boom.

Yes, we have been immersed in a chronic labor shortage. Yes, some of the high-tech layoffs have eased the worker shortfall in some companies. But, no, layoffs in the agricultural industry don’t help shortages within the high-tech industry. A worker on a beef line isn’t likely to jump into an information-technology job overnight.

Many, including this newspaper, question the wisdom of unbridled growth. We don’t want to see sprawl, cookie-cutter housing and endless traffic jams. But anti-growth zealots need to realize that in order to maintain and, dare we say, improve, our quality of life, we need jobs, both low-tech and high. We need to encourage existing industry to expand, and, in some areas, we need to encourage new industries to come in.

Northern Colorado has enjoyed a vibrant economy. But those communities that don’t encourage reasonable growth will begin to see the effects as low-tech workers remain out of work and high-tech companies continue to search for employees in vain.

100. 133. 41. 80.

Those are the cuts, made incrementally, in employment at Monfort Inc. in Greeley during the past month. They total 354 jobs lost in a positions ranging from management to clerical, administrative to production.

Monfort Portion Foods and Fabricated Metal Products both have been closed as Monfort parent ConAgra Inc. struggles to boost profitability under pressure from analysts and investors.

The cuts are indicative not only of a struggling beef industry but also of an agricultural industry that has been hampered by low prices and excessive production.

They’re also a big blow to the Northern Colorado economy, which already is reeling…

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