HARD DECISION: Officials say 26 employees affected as facility mothballed.
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Mark Gutman/Daily News file photoDairy Farmers of America has announced it is idling its cheese factory in the York hamlet of Linwood. The cooperative will keep equipment at the plant in case it’s able to reopen.

Dairy Farmers of America is idling its cheese factory in the York hamlet of Linwood, confirmed Doug Glade, DFA’s executive vice president and president of commercial.

Glade said the cooperative made the decision “due to changing market conditions.”

“We are continuing to explore options for the future of the facility,” he said. “… This was not an easy decision, and we sincerely appreciate the dedication the employees here have shown. Of the facility’s 26 employees, 13 were able to transition into roles at the adjoining dairy ingredients plant. We are committed to helping the other impacted employees through their transition to other opportunities.”

DFA spokesperson Kim O’Brien said the cooperative will continue to maintain equipment in the factory, “which would allow us to resume production in case of improved market dynamics.”

Glade said the idling decision will not affect Craigs Creamery, which is directly adjacent to the cheese factory.

Ground was broken on the 30,000 square-foot, $58 million cheese factory in August 2016 as a joint venture among DFA, the European dairy cooperative Arla Foods and the eight farms in Livingston and Wyoming counties that make up Craigs Station Ventures: Noblehurst, Baker Brook, Lawnel, Southview, Coyne, Synergy, Mulligan and McCormick farms.

Since then, Arla appears to have sold its stake in the factory. According to O’Brien, DFA now holds a 90 percent stake while Craigs Station Ventures holds the remaining 10 percent.

Close proximity to Craigs Creamery was one of the factors in the decision to build the cheese factory in the first place. Craigs Creamery, itself a partnership between DFA and Craigs Station Ventures, opened in 2014. The 14,000-square-foot creamery turns milk produced by the eight farms into standardized milk and cream using a cold separation process that doesn’t strip milk proteins of some of their characteristics. The process is desirable for the production of perishable dairy products such as yogurt and cheese.

It’s been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic caused milk prices to plummet…

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