Maple Leaf Cooperative still looking home for milk by Dec. 7

Wisconsin State Farmer
After a 24-year partnership, Maple Leaf Cheese Cooperative and the Maple Leaf Cheesemakers Inc., are parting company, leaving 25 small and medium-sized dairy farms looking for a home for their milk.

MONROE – The clock is ticking for 25 Green County dairy farms seeking a home for their milk, says Maple Leaf Cooperative President Jeremy Mayer, Cooperative President.

“We’re working hard to find a home for our patron’s milk after Maple Leaf Cheesemakers, Inc, our long-term cheesemaking partner, notified us that they will stop cheesemaking at our Cooperative-owned factory in Monroe on December 7.” 

Mayer said the cheesemaking partner gave their 60-day termination notice on October 8, and says they plan to remove their cheesemaking equipment unless they agree to sell or lease back the equipment so the Cooperative can reopen the plant as soon as possible.  

“The Cooperative Board has been working diligently to find partners so we can reopen the plant under a strong plan for a revitalized cheese business with a new brand,” Mayer said. “But we are running out of time."

To avoid the plant being shut down for a period of time, the Cooperative needs to put its top priority on helping patrons find a buyer for their milk, Mayer said.

The Cooperative has started making buyer contacts for patrons and bulk shipments of Cooperative milk.

“Everyone in the cheese and dairy business knows how difficult current markets are for cheese and milk especially with a resurgent pandemic,” he said.

While the ideal solution would be for a new cheesemaker to move into the current plant, the Cooperative is helping its group of patron farmers in trying to make contacts with buyers in order to find a new market for their milk by the Dec. 7 shutdown.

“The Cooperative has set up a war room with our advisor, Will Hughes, so we can open all the possible doors with buyers and work one-on-one with every patron to find the best option for them,” said Mayer.

The Cooperative is asking buyers to reach out to Hughes at 608-239-9567 or to work with him and patrons to arrange a market as soon as possible.

Mayer knows that markets are challenging right now, and asking buyers to help is asking for goodwill.

“The outpouring of support for the Cooperative’s situation has been tremendous both in Green County and across Wisconsin,” he said. “That support gives us options for helping farmers now and for helping reopen the plant with a new vision.”

Maple Leaf Cheese Cooperative is a farmer-owned Cooperative and cheese plant in Monroe, Wisconsin. The Cooperative comprises 25 dairy farmers and has been in business for 110 years.