By Theopolis Waters
(Reuters) - PM Beef will close its southwest Minnesota beef processing plant on Dec. 11, due to tight cattle supplies, the company said on Tuesday.
The company announced the closure to employees and owners during meetings on Monday, according to local media.
Prices for slaughter cattle last year hit record highs in the wake of severe drought in 2012 that forced ranchers to downsize their herds.
"Closing the facility was a very difficult but necessary decision based on years of deteriorating industry conditions, including rising cattle prices and limited cattle supply," said Lisa Hernandez, president of PM Beef Holdings.
The company said it would continue to search for a buyer who might eventually resume operations, Hernandez said.
The PM Beef facility, located in Windom, Minnesota, is operated by Caldwell Packing and employees about 300 people.
Industry experts estimated the plant slaughters roughly 900 head of cattle per day, compared to some of its larger competitors such as Tyson Foods and JBS Swift [JBS.UL], which have an estimated daily slaughter capacity of about 5,000 head.
The closing will hurt those who supply high-grade cattle for the PM Beef plant, said Jim Robb, director of the Colorado-based Livestock Marketing Information Center, adding that PM Beef's competition would likely buy those cattle at less money.
(Reporting by Theopolis Waters in Chicago; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)