With the help of USDA Rural Development, Wayne County conducted a feasibility study, developed a business plan and even selected a potential site for a dairy processing plant.
The study, performed by Shepstone Management, indicated a dairy processing plant focused on the specialty cheese market could show a profit and provide a premium to the dairy farmers whose cows will provide the raw materials.
The study showed that the key to making the project viable will be to focus on the New York metropolitan market, where cheese spending is twice that of the U.S. average, and on cheeses of types that originated in Latin American countries; those cheeses have seen significant growth in per-capita consumption in the past 20 years.
The relatively small plant would have the capacity to support eight 75-cow herds, pay dairy farmers a $2 premium per hundredweight of milk and directly employ approximately 10 people.
The project, cultivated by the Wayne Tomorrow! Agriculture Task Force, resulted from the recommendations of the Economic Development Plan for Agriculture, which was presented in 2019. That study focused on ways Wayne County can revive agriculture, and on the dairy industry in particular. The recommendations are expected to drive economic development and community resiliency.
The county has no expertise in operating a cheese plant nor do the commissioners want to go into the cheese business. Instead, the county has done the studies and market research, developed a plan and created a series of incentives designed to help the project succeed.
According to county commissioners Brian Smith, Joseph Adams and Jocelyn Cramer, this is a major step in a long-running effort to revitalize the local agriculture community.
The Request for Proposals is available online along with the Dairy Processing Plant Feasibility Study and Business Plan. Those proposals are due to the Commissioners’ Office by Oct. 8 at 4:30 p.m.