They're still busy making major changes at Deere (NYSE:DE), the world's largest farm machinery and equipment company. This time, the action started at the top, but it will also include at least a temporary shuttering of a production facility.

For starters, and along with other upper-level moves, Samuel R. Allen, who has been at the helm of the company's construction and forestry equipment division for the past five years, will replace Robert W. Lane as Deere's CEO. The changeover will take place in August, although Allen became Deere's chief operating officer on Monday. Also, Allen is set to succeed Lane as the company's chairman, a role that Lane will continue to hold until a still undisclosed time.

It's frequently difficult to tell whether a departing executive was pushed or jumped, but it appears that Lane has done an admirable job for the company during his nine years as CEO. Among his accomplishments are an expansion of the company's overseas presence and the implementation of operational reforms, including restructuring and a new profitability metric. Although Deere reported a 38% dip in net income during the past quarter, a downturn seemed inevitable, given the nation's housing apocalypse and the global credit crunch. Although a surprise to some, Deere maintains that the CEO changeover had been under consideration for well over a year.

Beyond the switch in CEOs, Deere has managed to hold its layoffs to an almost unbelievably low 3,350 of its nearly 57,000 workers worldwide. That number is including the announcement on Tuesday that it would indefinitely close its Ottumwa, Iowa, plant, a move that will initially affect almost 500 workers. For the sake of contrast, Deere's Midwest equipment manufacturing neighbor Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) has cut 20,000 employees, about 18% of its workforce.

And beyond that, such diverse companies as Alcoa (NYSE:AA), United Technologies (NYSE:UTX), and Anglo American (NASDAQ:AAUK) have each shown the door to 15,000 or more workers thus far in 2009. So I'm willing to toss some hosannas to Deere for its retention performance.

Deere took a hard look at the future when it released its last-quarter results, and the picture wasn't especially pretty. On that basis alone, I'd certainly keep this generally solid company in my sights, but defer any share-buying until signs of a recovery develop far more clarity.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't have financial interests in any of the companies mentioned. He does, however, encourage your questions and comments. The Fool has a disclosure policy that'll never be plowed under.