Foremost Farms USA plans to close one cheese plant and indefinitely shutter another. (See main story.)
Joan Behr, director of communications for the Baraboo-based cooperative said the Alma Center plant, which is now slated to be closed, was acquired by Wisconsin Dairies (the forerunner of Foremost Farms) in 1988.
It had been a family-owned cheese plant called Ludeman's South Alma Cheese Factory run by brothers Herbert and Harold Ludeman.
Acquiring that cheese plant allowed Wisconsin Dairies to begin manufacturing mozzarella cheese, which at that time was not a big part of the product mix for the dairy cooperative, Behr said.
Since that time the demand for Italian-style cheese has grown and the majority of the cheese produced by Foremost is Italian.
Asked if the Alma Center plant will be put up for sale, Behr said Foremost Farms hasn't decided how it is going to dispose of the assets at this time.
"It is an old plant with smaller capacity," she said.
It might be too big for someone contemplating an artisan-type cheese facility, she said, and it probably isn't big enough for larger dairy businesses to contemplate using.
The Waumandee facility, which the co-op said it is closing indefinitely, has a more modern infrastructure, she added, and the cooperative is still looking at how a different product mix could be made in that facility.
There is still the chance that if some new product mix can't be figured out for that plant it could also be closed permanently.
Foremost Farms has nine cheese plants as well as six facilities producing dairy ingredients like whey. That number in the ingredients group includes the butter facility owned by the cooperative at Reedsburg.
The co-op has operations at 17 locations including the home office in Baraboo and an office in Indianapolis and has a total of 1,129 employees.
Farmer-members produce milk for Foremost Farms in seven states including Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.