Why $510M milk processing site is major for Michigan
Mid-Michigan will gain 300 new jobs soon thanks to a major new $510-million milk processing campus that will be built in St. Johns, north of Lansing.
The larger of two new facilities will cost $425 million and will include a 146-acre dairy processing facility built in St. Johns and create 259 new jobs. That plant will process more than 8 million pounds of milk per day, turning it into cheese and other dairy products.
Adjacent to that plant, a second new facility costing $85 million and employing up to 38 new workers will produce whey permeate powder used in animal feed and other uses.
The Michigan Strategic Fund approved about $27.6 million worth of incentives Thursday morning to support the project, including grants, investments and tax abatements from the Strategic Fund, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Michigan Department of Transportation.
Developers said their total investment could go as high as $550 million.
The new jobs underscore the importance of farm products to Michigan’s overall economy. Though best known as the home of the auto industry, Michigan sports a robust agricultural sector as well, producing a vast range of products from cherries to blueberries. The state ranks fifth in the nation for total milk production, adding almost $16 billion to the state’s economy annually.
Milk production takes place at more than 1,700 dairy farms, most of them family owned, which have an average of 176 cows each.
But Michigan’s dairy farmers have struggled of late because of depressed milk prices caused by oversupply and high transportation costs from sending their raw milk out of the state for processing. The state estimates that Michigan milk producers lost more than $164 million in 2017 alone.
So the new St. Johns site is expected to ease that burden, reducing transportation costs and providing new efficiencies into the state’s milk processing industry. When completed, the facility will be among the largest dairy processing sites in the nation.
Glanbia plc, a global nutrition group with its roots in Ireland that operates in 32 countries, is partnering with Select Milk Producers Inc. and Dairy Farmers of America to Form Spartan Michigan LLC to develop the larger of the two facilities. Proliant Dairy Michigan will build the small plant.
In a statement, Gov. Rick Snyder said the project will boost Michigan’s agricultural sector.
“Michigan’s dairy industry is an essential economic driver in our state, and this new investment elevates and expands our potential to rise even higher while bringing new jobs and opportunities to this region.”
And Jeff Mason, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., echoed that.
“The project is vital to the success of the Michigan dairy sector,” Mason said. “Michigan’s dairy producers, already among the most efficient in the world, will now be even more competitive and prepared for the market challenges ahead.”
Posted By: Detroit Free Press on August 9, 2018. For more information, please click here to read the source article.
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