A financial blow for eleven local dairy farmers after a cheese producer near Kaukauna decided to stop buying their milk.
This week, Arla Foods told those farmers they would stop buying the milk on July 1st, a full 60 day notice.
“We felt it was really important to do this the right way, and we actually personally went out to each farm and delivered this unfortunate news,” said Don Stohrer Jr., the General Manager for Arla Foods Inc., USA.
The company has a U.S. Headquarters in New Jersey, but operates the Hollandtown Dairy near Kaukauna.
The plant uses local milk to make five specialty cheeses that are consumed around the country, primarily Havarti, Gouda, Fontina and Muenster.
The simple answers as to why they dropped the milk producers comes down to having an abundant supply.
According to Stohrer, “We had more than enough coming in to provide the milk that we needed to make our cheeses in Hollandtown, so there were farmers that were actually delivering too much milk, more than we needed, and we had to make a tough business decision around this.”
The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association says this decision does not come as a complete surprise.
John Umhoefer is the Executive Director in Madison, “We reached a record amount of cheese in storage last summer, so it’s not surprising to see that a lot of plants around the state are running absolutely full out.”
Local 5 reached out to some farmers impacted by this decision. They either did not want to, or couldn’t go on camera. Judging by the current status of the dairy industry, it may be difficult for these farms to find new buyers.
“It’s our hope that there are processors in the area that have a little more capacity and will be able to take on farms,” said Umhoefer.
Arla Foods says they are working with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture to find a new home for these farmers.
The Hollandtown plant will continue to collect milk from 24 dairy farmers in Wisconsin.