Deere & Company announced last week it is relocating tractor cab production from the Waterloo, IA, plant to Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, during the upcoming 2024 fiscal year.
In a story posted by the Des Moines Register at John Deere – Des Moines Register Article the farm and construction equipment manufacturer cited a “tight labor market and the need to make way for new products at the northeast Iowa plant, its largest.
The move will affect some 250 jobs at a plant that employs about 1,500 people, 1,100 of whom are in production.
With roots that go back to the 1830s, John Deere – or simply Deere & Company – is, according to Tractor Transport, “the most popular, largest, and among the oldest agricultural equipment manufacturer. In 2017, the company was rated as the largest farm machinery producing company.” And it has long been a major Midwest employer. Based in Moline, IL, one of the Quad Cities, Deere employs more than 6,600 workers in Iowa and has plants located in Waterloo, Ankeny, Davenport, Dubuque, Ottumwa, and Paton.
Many Deere workers are represented by United Auto Workers Local 838 in the Waterloo metro area, and although Union officials could not be reached for comment immediately following the Deere announcement, Iowa Rep. Ras Smith of Waterloo said, “It’s disappointing to see jobs leave the state, let alone the country.”
The Register quoted him as also saying, “Many of us grew up playing with green tractors because our moms and dads worked there.” Smith’s father, in fact, was a 43-year Deere employee.
The story also said that in 2021 Deere announced it would hire additional workers for its Iowa plants, “given booming farm and construction economies and increased equipment demand.”
However, it noted, “the percentage of Iowans willing to work has failed to recover at the same rate as the nation’s since the 2020 global pandemic hit. Iowa had roughly 61,000 fewer people either working or looking for work in April compared to October 2019, U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics show.”
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, “Iowa’s labor participation rate was at a decade high of 70.6%, compared to 67.4 percent in April.”
And, the story pointed out, Deere is not the only major manufacturer to move jobs from the U.S., with Ford also deciding in 2021 to cancel a $900 million car manufacturing facility investment in Avon Lake, OH, and relocate to Mexico.