A Wisconsin cheese producer has notified 11 state dairy farms that it will stop buying their milk in 60 days.
Arla Foods’ Hollandtown Dairy in Kaukauna notified the farms earlier this week that it would stop buying their milk as of July 1, said Donald Stohrer, the general manager for Arla Foods Inc., USA.
Arla Foods, headquartered in Denmark, is the fifth-largest dairy company in the world and a cooperative owned by more than 12,500 dairy farmers, according to its website. Its U.S. headquarters is in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, and Hollandtown Dairy is the only farm it owns in the United States.
Hollandtown has more milk than it needs to make cheese and it was forced to make a difficult decision, Stohrer said. It’s not a unique problem. The milk glut has been affecting farmers, cheese producers and others in the dairy industry and has led to depressed milk prices for four years.
“We tried to wait this out for awhile. But it wasn’t turning around and we had to make a decision,” he said.
Representatives from Hollandtown Dairy broke the news to the dairy farmers personally, Stohrer said. Arla Foods also has reached out to the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to let it know it wants to help the farmers find new buyers for their milk, he said.
“We’re trying to do this as empathetically as possible,” Stohrer said.
Hollandtown started producing cheese for Arla in 1998 before Arla bought it in 2006.
It employs over 150 people and makes specialty cheeses such as Havarti, Gouda, Edam, Fontina and Muenster.
Hollandtown is the top producer of Havarti in the United States, according to Arla’s Hollandtown website.
The company follows European standards and buys milk from farmers who do not give hormones to their cows to increase the amount of milk they produce, according to its website.
“(Hollandtown) is not a massive player in Wisconsin and (the decision to stop buying milk from farmers) is a smaller scale situation than what happened last April,” said John Umhoefer, the executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association.
Last April, Grassland Dairy Products of Greenwood told about 75 farms in Wisconsin that it was no longer buying their milk after a U.S.-Canada trade dispute led Grassland to lose its Canadian business.
By: ROB SCHULTZ
Source: La Crosse Tribune