Hundreds of salaried workers with the world’s largest farm machinery maker are taking advantage of the company’s voluntary separation program. The program was unveiled in April when Deere combined its agricultural division with the commercial and consumer equipment division.

Deere spokesperson Ken Golden says company officials underestimated how many workers would take the offer to leave. "In April, we thought approximately 200 would take advantage of the program," Golden said. "Really, about 800 have taken advantage of the program."

All of the workers involved are in the U.S. It’s not clear how many of the 800 are in Iowa. Deere’s agricultural division does have several plants in Iowa and a number of the workers involved are likely Iowa residents who work at the company headquarters in Moline, Illinois.

"Mainly, this would be folks in the Midwest and in the southeast (U.S.) who would be taking advantage of this program," Golden said. The elimination of the 800 jobs is expected to save the company 75-million dollars in the first year.

Many of the 800 workers leaving Deere have more than 20 years of experience, but Golden says they make up only 3% of the company’s overall salaried workforce.

"We feel very comfortable that this voluntary separation program was a good initiative for the company and will not hurt our chances of competing in a worldwide market," Golden said. "In fact, it will improve our opportunity globally." Earlier this year, Deere slashed its 2009 earnings outlook and suspended quarterly forecasts.