Foremost Farms’ new dairy plant boosts Michigan’s dairy industry ecosystem

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

MSF board supports processing facility in Greenville. Project to generate $57.9 million in capital investment, create 33 jobs. Convenience of new site helps state dairy farmers reduce expenses

LANSING, Mich. – A new dairy processing facility in Greenville that is expected to have a transformative impact on Michigan’s dairy industry received support today from the Michigan Strategic Fund. The project is projected to generate a total capital investment of $57.9 million and create 33 jobs.

“Foremost Farms’ construction of its new milk processing plant in Greenville will elevate the profile and profitability of our state’s dairy industry, and we’re pleased to support this investment and the new jobs for area residents,” 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. 

Greenville Venture Partners LLC is a subsidiary of Foremost Farms USA Cooperative. Headquartered in Baraboo, Wisc., Foremost Farms is a farmer-owned milk processing and marketing cooperative with about 1,300 members and annual sales of $1.5 billion. The nation’s eighth-largest cooperative and number 25 in annual sales among the Top 100 U.S. dairy processors, Foremost Farms focuses on the creation of tailored and innovative milk solutions that meet the needs of customers around the world. 

“Foremost Farms’ decision to further invest here demonstrates to other global companies Michigan’s standing as one of the great agriculture centers in the U.S. with a business climate that enables their success,” said Mason.

Pending approvals of state and local incentives, Greenville Venture Partners plans to establish a 55,000-square-foot dairy processing facility in the city of Greenville that will help provide an outlet to process the current surplus milk supply in Michigan. MSF today approved a private activity bond inducement valued at up to $12 million in support of the project. Approval of the bond authorizing resolution is expected to take place at an upcoming MSF meeting.

“Foremost Farms’ executive management and board of directors are very appreciative of MEDC, the city of Greenville, MDARD, MDOT, The Right Place, West MI Works!, and Representative Jim Lower along with all the other combined agencies in making this a reality to strategically build this facility in Greenville,” said Foremost Farms’ President and CEO Michael Doyle. “It is an ideal location as a manufacturing base for Foremost Farms USA to unify our seven-state cooperative membership’s milk. Our goal is to develop and grow this facility to continually meet the value-added needs of our customers. This, along with further developing our strategic alliance with Michigan Milk Producers Association that began at Constantine, Michigan, 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.

“Value-added processing developments like the one at Foremost Farms are the future of the food and agriculture industry,” said MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams. “In addition to creating more jobs for Greenville, it also will provide much-needed processing for dairy farmers in that region of Michigan. The impact of these investments on local, regional and statewide economies cannot be overstated.”

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

"The city of Greenville appreciates the opportunity to develop a relationship and subsequent partnership with Foremost Farms that is mutually beneficial for both the company and the community,” said Greenville City Manager George Bosanic.

According to MDARD, 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.

“Through the many evolutions this project has taken, there have been a number of quick responses needed from the many partners involved at all levels. The City of Greenville has gone above and beyond with their participation,” said Kathy Jo VanderLaan, Business Development – Montcalm County, The Right Place. “Representative Jim Lower played a key role in getting this over the finish line. The end result will be new jobs for people in our community, future growth opportunities, and relief for Michigan dairy farmers.”

The Foremost Farms project is the most recent example of MSF support for food processing facilities in Michigan. In 2016, MSF approval of an agricultural processing renaissance zone for ZFS Ithaca, LLC’s new soybean processing plant in Ithaca, a project that will generate a total capital investment of $123 million and create 74 full-time jobs. The new facility could boost the percentage of Michigan-grown soybeans processed in-state from 10 percent to as much as 60 percent.

Last fall, Clemens Food Group completed construction and began operations at a new pork processing facility in Coldwater. MSF supported the project in 2014 with $12.5 million in Community Development Block Grant funds for the City of Coldwater to make infrastructure improvements at the site and provide other assistance. Products will be primarily bulk, fresh pork items. By 2020, Clemens expects to harvest about 20,000 hogs per day. Nationally, Michigan ranks 13th in pork production, and the pork industry plays a significant role in the state’s agriculture and food processing industry. Pork production uses nearly 9 percent of all soybeans grown in Michigan.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.