Fargo's Case New Holland plant will eliminate 120 jobs later this month, the company announced Monday.

A news release attributed the layoffs to "the continuing weakness of the economy and a need to align production with demand."

The layoffs, representing just over 20% of the plant's current work force, are permanent and take effect June 29.

Hourly employees on all product lines will be affected.

Ralph Traviati, spokesman for CNH Global N.V., which oversees the Fargo plant, declined to comment beyond the two-sentence news release.

The plant eliminated 140 jobs in March. It now employs 554 people.

Losing primary-sector jobs is a "double-whammy" for Fargo-Moorhead, said Brian Walters, president of the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp.

That's because other local companies that weld or paint products for Case New Holland will also be affected, Walters said.

A year ago, Case New Holland staff couldn't build tractors fast enough, often working overtime on Fridays, said Chris Skeldum, president of the local International Association of Machinists chapter.

But in recent months, "production has gone right down the tube," said Skeldum, who works on the floor building tractors.

Workers expect to produce three front-end loaders per day, down from the 12 to 14 per day they built a year ago, Skeldum said. They also plan to manufacture 14 large tractors daily, down from 24.

Walters said there is still global demand for farm equipment, but the financing is not available due to the global credit crisis.

"When that financing comes back, then production has to come back quickly to meet it," Walters said. "Hopefully that day comes very soon for those workers and the company."

Workers had offered to take a month off this summer to avoid cuts, Skeldum said.

"My understanding is corporate didn't buy into that idea," he said.

The positions cut will be based on seniority, likely affecting workers who have less than five years of experience, Skeldum said.