PORTLAND — NORPAC, a Salem-based fruit and vegetable cooperative, has announced it will permanently close its Stayton plant, following the pending sale of the co-op to the Oregon Potato Company last month.

The co-op has announced plans to begin employee layoffs at the end of October, eventually terminating 485 employees.

The co-op had filed for bankruptcy in August. The Statesman Journal reported the closure was part of a nationwide trend in which midsize co-ops struggled to compete with private agricultural companies.

In a letter notifying Stayton plant employees of the impending closure, NORPAC’s vice president of operations, Paul Scott, said the buyers had indicated that the Oregon Potato Company was not interested in continuing operations at the Stayton plant.

And though it’s possible that a different company might outbid the Oregon Potato Company at auction, Scott wrote “there is no guarantee that the winning company will decide to continue to run the Stayton plant.”

NORPAC is one of the state’s largest fruit and vegetable processors with three processing facilities in the Willamette Valley and subsidiaries in Hermiston and Quincy, Washington.

In a letter notifying state officials of the Stayton plant’s closure, Scott wrote the co-op was “actively evaluating and will continue to evaluate transfer opportunities to other NORPAC facilities for affected employees.”

NORPAC has not commented on the closure.

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