New dairy plant boosts Michigan’s industry ecosystem

Kathleen Achtenberg

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Foremost Farms’ $57.9 million investment brings much-needed processing facility to state

There’s plenty of milk to go around.

Foremost Farms’ new milk processing plant will increase capacity and accessibility for Michigan dairy farmers, while providing a major boost to Michigan’s dairy industry. Greenville Venture Partners – a subsidiary of Foremost Farms – will build a 55,000-square-foot dairy processing facility in Greenville, located about 30 miles northwest of Grand Rapids. The much-needed facility will become a major processing plant for what is currently a surplus milk supply in Michigan.

In addition to a major cost savings for the state’s dairy farmers, who now will spend less on transporting milk to be processed out-state, the project is expected to attract a capital investment of $57.9 million and create 33 jobs.

On Tuesday (Feb. 27), the Michigan Strategic Fund board approved a private activity bond inducement valued up to $12 million to support the project. 

“Foremost Farms’ construction of its new milk processing plant in Greenville will elevate the profile and profitability of our state’s dairy industry,” said Jeff Mason, CEO of Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the state’s chief marketing and business attraction arm that administers programs and performs due diligence on behalf of the MSF.

Headquartered in Baraboo, Wis., Foremost Farms is a farmer-owned milk processing and marketing cooperative with 1,300 members and $1.5-billion annual sales. They are the eighth-largest cooperative and rank 25 in annual sales among top U.S. dairy processors.

Michigan ranks fifth in the nation for total milk production, with dairy farmers contributing $15.7 billion to the state’s economy. Dairy cows in Michigan produced 10.9 billion pounds of milk. Michigan’s 1,747 dairy farms, with more than 427,000 cows, produce more than enough milk to supply the entire state. Currently, more than 24 percent of Michigan milk production, of 2.65 billion pounds, is shipped out of state per year.

Collaborators include City of Greenville, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michigan Department of Transportation, The Right Place, West MI Works!, along with the MEDC.

“Greenville is an ideal location as a manufacturing base for Foremost Farms USA to unify our seven-state cooperative membership’s milk,” said Foremost Farms’ President and CEO Michael Doyle. “Along with further developing our strategic alliance with Michigan Milk Producers Association, this facility will add value for our members and all producers in this market.”

From an economic standpoint, the new facility will provide Michigan dairy farmers with a much-needed financial boost due to the current lack of available processing capacity in the state. In 2017, the loss to Michigan milk producers was more than $164 million, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

MDARD is supporting the project with a $500,000 grant from its Food and Agriculture Investment Fund, pending approval from the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development during its next meeting on March 21.

City of Greenville plans to support the project with a 12-year property tax abatement valued at $2.33 million.

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