Seed company sells out, hundreds out of work


Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Mason Watkins

FULTON, Ky. — Terminated: a large employer lets almost everyone go and the community can't believe how they did it. Employees returned to the job after lunch only to learn they no longer have a job.

It happened just after noon Friday at the 53-year-old Ferry Morse Seed Factory in Fulton, Kentucky.

A company spokesperson had no comment but people in the community had plenty to say about the way the company let workers go.

Jiffy Products owned and operated the factory. But now, Massachusetts-based Plantation Products owns the home and garden division of Jiffy, and in turn, owns Ferry Morse.

While they won't tell us their plans for the Fulton factory, they made it clear they don't want nearly all the workers who depend on the garden-growing company to feed their families.

The company that started sending seeds in the mail seven generations ago hand-delivered a letter to nearly 200 factory workers just after lunch. It stated their position was terminated, effective immediately.

"I can't believe that, because things were going so great," said Fulton resident Judy Green. "People had been there a long time."

Economic Development Director Eddy Crittendon said he was caught off guard like everyone else and is surprised the company gave no notice.

"There's folks who've been employed out there for thirty to forty years, have given their whole life to the company," he said.

The message shocked nearly everyone in Fulton but Crittendon tried to stay optimistic

"Whenever bad things happen, an opportunity opens. Maybe we can turn this into some type of an opportunity in the future."

Others are doubtful, especially since Ferry Morse's final words to hundreds of employees were, "Thank you and good luck."

Crittendon said he's been in contact with the state and there are state incentives available that exist to keep factories like Ferry Morse open. He reached out to Ferry Morse and Jiffy products multiple times Friday but he said they wouldn't talk to him.

The only company person who would talk to us was a receptionist at Plantation Products. She said she was only allowed to tell us her company acquired Ferry Morse.

Right now, the only thing Ferry Morse told employees is that they will get a 60-day lump-sum payment, as required by federal law. Also, their health insurance runs out at the end of this month.

A spokesperson for both Jiffy and Plantation Products told Local 6 they'd have more information for us sometime next week.