Foremost restructures in face of declining Midwest supply – Newsline – Foremost Farms

Foremost restructures in face of declining Midwest supply – Newsline – Foremost Farms – Brief Article

Patrick Duffey

Caught in the midst of declining milk supply volumes in the Upper Midwest and drooping milk prices for dairy farmers, Foremost Farms, the dairy cooperative based at Baraboo, Wis., plans to restructure operations by closing five outlying facilities and centralizing purchasing and transportation functions at Baraboo. Four manufacturing facilities in Iowa and Wisconsin will be closed by the end of the year and operations consolidated elsewhere within the cooperative’s system. A dry-products warehouse will be closed in 2004.

President David Fuhrman said the closings affects 187 salaried and hourly employees. Severance and other transition assistance were developed for them. “The decision,” Fuhrman said, “was driven by economics. While national milk production increased last year, milk volumes in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa declined causing excess plant capacity in the region as well as our production network.” Weak demand and large supplies of cheese, butter and whey ingredients have kept product levels at unprofitable levels for the past 20 months. He said Upper Midwest processors were increasingly pressured to reduce costs and operations to remain competitive with the rapidly growing dairy industry in the western United States. Up to this point, Foremost had operated 24 manufacturing facilities and two milk transfer stations in serving its 4,300 dairy-farmer members.

COPYRIGHT 2003 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Business – Cooperative Service

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