Seven dairy companies are the first ever recipients of the new Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30x20 Processor Grants, Gov.Scott Walker announced last week. The Grow Wisconsin Dairy Processor Grant is part of the Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30x20 Initiative, aimed at improving the long-term viability of Wisconsin's dairy industry.
"These companies will now have the means to explore new technologies, make operational changes and improve profitability that can foster innovation and success," Walker said. "This new initiative for dairy processors, coupled with our existing Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30x20 program for farmers, will support a growing demand for quality Wisconsin milk and dairy products."
Walker introduced these processor grants, totaling $200,000 annually, in the 2013-15 state budget he signed last June.
Wisconsin already produces a quarter of the nation's cheese supply, and there is a growing demand for Wisconsin dairy products abroad. In the first three months of 2014 alone, the value of all dairy product exports from Wisconsin increased 63 percent over the same time period in 2013. The value of just cheese and cheese curd exports jumped 70 percent in the first three months of 2014 compared to same time period in 2013, and whey, a by-product of cheesemaking that until recently was something to throw away, is now used as a food ingredient with a Wisconsin export value of $44 million for the first three months of 2014, a 53 percent increase over the same time last year.
These processor awards will be used for projects that will help these companies add jobs, increase profitability and meet food quality and safety standards that will be adopted in the near future. One project has the potential for revolutionizing how Wisconsin milk is shipped, unrefrigerated, around the world, reducing shipping costs and expanding markets for Wisconsin dairy farmers.
Harmony Specialty Dairy Foods, Stratford — The company focuses on unique and unusual cheeses such as super kosher certified, halal certified or condiment-infused. Harmony Specialty Dairy Foods produces more than 1 million pounds of specialty cheese per year and is working to grow into new markets. The company will use the grant money to seek third-party certification to meet the needs of customers who require that level of food-safety certification.
Marron Foods, Durand — Marron Foods produces customized food ingredients for food-manufacturing companies around the world. The company will use the grant money to seek third-party certification to assure continued growth and employment opportunities.
Dairyvative Technologies, Markesan — Dairyvative Technologies has developed a process for concentrating milk that enables fresh pasteurized lactose-free milk to ship without refrigeration. This novel technology would allow milk once shipped in seven dedicated tankers to be shipped in a single, unrefrigerated shipping container. The technology could reduce shipping costs by 84 percent and greatly expand markets for Wisconsin dairy farmers.
Cedar Valley Cheese, Belgium — Cedar Valley plans a plant expansion to add cheese shredding and dicing equipment. Currently, the company has truckloads of cheese shredded at other plants. Grant money will be used to train current employees on using the new equipment and maintaining food safety in the process. The expansion will allow the company to add four new jobs.
Shullsburg Creamery, Shullsburg — The company is building a multimillion-dollar cheese plant that will be attached to its cut and wrap facility. Shullsburg Creamery plans to hire a Safe Quality Food consultant to train staff and help develop a food safety plan and other policies.
Taylor Cheese, Weyauwega — The company will use the grant to upgrade food-quality audit requirements. The company also plans to obtain certification as an organic food processor. These two changes will help the company grow its markets in ways that will allow for increased production, added jobs, better margins and more profitability.
Specialty Cheese, Reeseville — The company currently produces more Paneer cheese (a non-melting cheese popular in southern Asia) than any other company in the world. Specialty Cheese plans to use the grant money to automate its Paneer production in order to keep prices competitive and increase profitability.