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Simplot closing Lathrop plant costing 150 jobs
The Simplot plant in Lathrop.

After decades of production, the Simplot manufacturing plant in Lathrop will close its doors permanently next year.

The Idaho-based agricultural company – which made billions of dollars after a chemist employed by the company figured out the formula for frozen French Fries and became a chief supplier to the McDonald’s Corporation – has long been a staple of Lathrop on the eastern edge of the city limits, announced in a letter to employees last month that they would be ceasing operations.

As many as 150 employees will have to find a new job upon the closure at the plant, which manufactures ammonium phosphate fertilizers that are used in agricultural applications as well as sulfuric acid.

A spokesperson for the company could not be reached.

In a statement released to employees about the pending closure – which is slated for the end of August in 2024 – the company announced that diminished demand for their products coupled with the increased costs of production and transportation of those products were factors in the company’s decision to shutter the facility.

News of the pending closure was announced last week in several online agricultural trade publications.

It comes less than 10 year after the Pilkington Corporation shuttered its float glass manufacturing facility in Lathrop that for more than a half a century employed local workers to create automotive glass and other glass products.

While Lathrop’s industrial operations have grown to include more warehouses and distribution facilities thanks to its location along a major Interstate, the combination of Simplot and what was initially Libby Owens Ford before it was acquired by Pilkington represented the city’s long history of manufacturing – drawing some current Lathrop residents from other parts of the country that transferred to work at the facility before retiring.

Currently Lathrop has a Superfund site at the Sharpe Army Depot thanks to groundwater that was tainted with volatile organic compounds from on-site disposal of dangerous chemicals over several decades by the Department of the Army. The aquifer beneath Simplot is currently being monitored by the Occidental Chemical Corporation for a plume of sulfolane.

And the company has a long history with the City of Lathrop.

When the city first incorporated in 1989, Lathrop’s first City Hall and the base of operations for Lathrop Police Services were located on the Simplot campus. When the city moved to its new location on Towne Centre Drive, the Lathrop Police Services operation moved to a building on 7th Street that it would occupy until it temporarily relocated to French Camp.

To contact Bulletin reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.