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Published February 16, 2008, 12:00 AM

Fargo tractor plant manager: Demand is ‘unprecedented’

The demand for farm tractors means more work for the Case-New Holland tractor plant, which is hiring workers and expanding its capacity.

FARGO (AP) — The demand for farm tractors means more work for the Case-New Holland tractor plant, which is hiring workers and expanding its capacity.

Plant manager Erik Olson calls the demand “unprecedented.” The Fargo plant, which makes five types of farm and construction tractors, is being upgraded with new paint and more welding robots, and is looking for workers, he said.

“We have hired in the last 12 months, about 120 people, and we will probably hire in the 100 range again in the first four months of this year,” Olson said.

The plant’s work force Friday totaled about 850, officials of the parent company, CNH Global N.V., said.

“If there is an issue, our issue probably is the acquisition of welders,” Olson said. Plant officials are working with the North Dakota State College of Science, the skills and technology center in Fargo and others on training and recruiting welders, he said.

The Fargo plant, one of about 40 CNH manufacturing plants, is no stranger to the ups and downs of farming. In the fall of 2006, Olson announced plans to temporarily shut down the farm equipment making side while continuing with construction equipment.

Having both agricultural and construction equipment lines is an advantage for the company, said spokesman Tom Witcom, at CNH headquarters in Burr Ridge, Ill.

The Fargo plant’s expansion is no surprise given the demand for farm equipment, Witcom said Friday. Another farm implement plant in Illinois, which had been slated to close, is still in production, he said.

CNH’s earnings report for the fourth quarter of 2007 said worldwide farm equipment retail volume was up in almost every region of the world “with particular strength in high horsepower tractors, combines and in development markets.”

“We’re seeing continued strength in the ag equipment market,” Witcom said.

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On the Net:

CNH Global: www.cnh.com

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