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Falher, Alberta

Falher Alfalfa closes after going into receivership

Falher Alfalfa terminated operation after going into receivership earlier this month after serving the Smoky River region for 35 years.

Richard Froese
Smoky River Express

Falher Alfalfa has closed its doors after goiing into receivership, financially struggling with rising costs and Canadian dollar over the past two years. Receivers took over the ownership on February 1, says Paulette Carrier, general manager since 2004 who was employed with the company since 1988. “They’re going to try to sell the plant, property, and equipment at the best possible price,” says Carrier. Under normal circumstances, Falher Alfalfa employs a staff of about 35 full-time in the spring and 110 at the busiest time of the season. “It’s been a long journey,” says Carrier. “We’ve tried our best to keep Falher Alfalfa operating.” “We brought our last hope to the shareholders and they were the ones who decided to close it.” Under current economic conditions, alfalfa is not a viable crop to produce and process, she says. “In the alfalfa processing industry, it’s very hard to compete with all the high costs,” says Carrier. “And now we have high prices on all grain commodities.” “Farmers will see it more beneficial to produce crops other than alfalfa,” says Carrier. While the site currently sits idle, the plant has great potential. “The site with all the assets is ideal for another processing business, such as ethanol or biodiesel,” says Carrier. “The Smoky River region would certainly benefit from a business like these,” Falher Alfalfa went under the Company Creditor Arrangement Act in June 2007, protecting the company against any legal action taken by creditors and gave the company a chance to sell its product to be able to repay creditors. Last spring, Falher Alfalfa closed its operation for the year to ponder its future with the growing economic challenges. Serving the region for 35 prosperous years Established in 1973 as a private business, Falher Alfalfa was sold to a group of producers and farmers in 1978 with the same company. Costs of power energy and fuel have doubled since 2005, while during the same period, freight costs of Canadian National Railway has increased by 50 per cent and the Canadian dollar has risen to 92 cent on the United States dollar, up from 81 cents in 2005. “The difference in the Canadian and US dollar in the past year is roughly $24 a ton less than what we are receiving here at the plant,” says Carrier. While the local company would be comfortable with a dollar at 80 cents, she says the business would still be facing other high costs. Exporting about 90 per cent of its product is also hurt Falher Alfalfa, she says.

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