St. Albans Cooperative Creamery has announced that its board of directors is recommending a merger with the national dairy marketing cooperative Dairy Farmers of America.
The St. Albans cooperative, which just turned 100 years old, issued a written statement Monday saying its 340 or so members will vote on the merger at a special meeting in late July. If it goes through, the hauling company McDermotts, the St. Albans Cooperative Store, and the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery plant would all become fully-owned by DFA.
A «yes» vote to merge with DFA would bring about marked change for a venerable institution in the heart of dairy country. Up until now, the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery has remained an independent, Vermont institution, one that supplies cream to Ben & Jerry’s and ensures that milk from Franklin County cows ends up in ice cream pints all over the country.
The cooperative’s board chair, Fairfield dairy farmer Harold J. Howrigan, Jr., said Monday’s announcement is the culmination of two years of strategic planning in response to a challenging market and a prolonged period of low milk prices.
“With increasing shifts in customer needs, an imbalance in supply and demand and a volatile milk price cycle, it is clear change is needed for our cooperative,» Howrigan said.
He added that DFA can offer needed money to upgrade the St. Albans dairy plant as well as «a clear vision for the future and the depth of leadership to carry out that vision.”
DFA is one of the largest dairy marketing cooperatives in America and is based in Kansas City, Kansas. It has had an agreement with the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery since 2003.
DFA was also the subject of an anti-trust lawsuit filed by northeast dairy farmers in 2014, who claimed that DFA, along with Dean Foods, fixed milk prices. That case ended in a $50 million settlement.
“I have seen the dairy industry evolve and the continued need for dairy farmers to work together,» said Leon Berthiaume, the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery CEO. «DFA has been a strategic partner and I am very enthusiastic about what they will bring to our members, community and state.»