Darigold announced last week that they will build a $500 million processing plant in Pasco, Wash., under a new agreement with the Port of Pasco.
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The next generation of NDA dairy farmers on Coldstream Farms in Deming, Wash. From left to right: Luke Smith, Garrett Smith, Landon Smith (Darigold)

The plant will make specialized protein powder and butter, which will create approximately 200 on-site jobs, as well as 1,000 support service jobs.

More than half of the 400,000-square foot facility’s products are expected to be exported, mostly to Pacific Rim countries, the port said in a news release.

“By investing in this new state-of-the-art premium protein and butter operation, our farmer-owners are investing in the co-op’s long-term competitiveness, targeting promising markets across Southeast Asia and China and making progress against our goal to be carbon neutral by 2050,” Tafline Laylin, leader of sustainability communications and social engagement for Darigold says. “This bold investment reflects our commitment to meeting the environmental needs of today’s society, while also ensuring that producers can continue the legacy of their multigenerational farms.”

Darigold is the marketing and processing subsidiary of Northwest Dairy Association, a co-op that 350 dairy farm families in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana belong to. They have 11 other plants in the Northwest, including the Sunnyside plant, the co-op’s largest milk-receiving facility that is dedicated to making cheese and whey and is the closest located plant to the Tri-Cities area.

Half of the port’s newly created 300-acre business park includes the $3.3 million sale of 150 acres at the Reimann Industrial Center that will include the new Darigold plant. The agreement secures a $7.5 million payment from the state to put toward the $15.8 million cost of developing the infrastructure on the land. The state approved the funding earlier this year with the stipulation that the port develops a large-scale food processor by the end of 2022.

Commission President Jim Klindworth said in a press release that this is the largest private industrial development to ever occur at the Port of Pasco. “The new jobs at the plant and the new jobs at dairy farms create extraordinary opportunities for Franklin County residents,” he says.

Darigold still has 120 to 180 days to close on the deal and is contingent on several deadlines. The company states that they expect construction to be completed of the new Pasco facility in fall 2023 or early 2024.

“We are thrilled to welcome Darigold to Pasco and the Reimann as the anchor tenant in the Port’s largest industrial park. It’s incredibly rare to attract a project of this size and scope,” executive director Randy Hayden said in a release. “Darigold’s state-of-the-art facility will use the latest technology, serve as a model of sustainability, and create a new market for our region’s ag producers.”

Nominations are open for Fonterra’s board election but a repeat of the drama that rocked the vote three years ago can be ruled out.

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