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DFA reopens Michigan dairy processing plant
Michigan Correspondent

ADRIAN, Mich. — The Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) has reopened the dairy processing plant in Adrian, Mich., previously owned by Diehl, Inc. The deal results in the rehiring of former Diehl employees, providing a boost to the community and local economy.

“I can hardly tell you how excited we are,” said Gary McDowell, mayor of Adrian. “It’s just a very significant thing for our community. It’s a real coup for our city to have a company as respected as DFA.”

McDowell was on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 14, also the first day of the new operation.

The plant was shut down in October, idling 17 Diehl employees. Those people have been rehired, and as many as eight more people could be hired.

The Lenawee County Chamber of Commerce and McDowell courted the DFA to come to Adrian to take advantage of the milk processing facility. McDowell called the lobbying effort as “collaborative.”

Adrian is considered to be a good location because milk production in the area is increasing. The DFA’s milk production in Michigan has grown 9 percent per year for the past two years, according to Glenn Wallace, chief operating officer for the DFA Mideast Area.

“Michigan is a great state for dairy production climatically,” Wallace said. “It has great conditions. A lot of people have expanded their production in Michigan.”

According to Wallace, the DFA plans to process, monthly, more than 16.5 million pounds of milk into condensed milk, cream and non-fat dry milk powder. A processing capacity of more than 60,000 gallons per day will help to balance the growing supply of milk that is being produced by DFA dairy farms in Michigan.

“It makes more sense to balance the milk closer to the source,” Wallace said.

The plant will allow DFA to process the excess milk that is produced during the spring and summer months, when demand for milk falls off. Previously, the milk had to be hauled out of Michigan to customers as far away as Kentucky or Wisconsin. With the new plant, the DFA should realize significant savings in transportation costs.

The DFA is a milk-marketing cooperative established in 1998. Headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., the DFA annually markets and processes milk for its 20,631 members in 49 states.

The DFA Mideast Area operations, based in Fairlawn, Ohio, markets milk and provides services to member-owners in a six-state region, including Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, western Pennsylvania and parts of Kentucky and Tennessee.

This farm news was published in the March 22, 2006 issue of Farm World.