Ten Wisconsin dairy companies were recently named recipients of Dairy Processor Grants through a Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection program intended to foster innovation, improve profitability and sustain the long-term viability of Wisconsin’s dairy-processing facilities.
Nasonville Dairy Inc.
received $42,000. Cheesemakers from Nasonville Dairy near Marshfield, have been producing cheeses for more than 150 years. Currently the dairy buys milk from more than 190 farm families. Nasonville will use the grant funds for food-safety and facility-modernization projects, including adding a brining system for its feta-cheese line, and to hire a consultant to perform an annual food-safety audit.
Cooperative Regions of Organic Producers Pools — Organic Valley
received $28,569. The cooperative is comprised of certified-organic family farms that produce dairy, eggs, soy, produce, meat and livestock feed under the Organic Valley and Organic Prairie labels. The company will use the grant funds to develop a improved-protein less-fat cheese-snack product to improve surplus milk utilization and profitability.
Widmer’s Cheese Cellars
received $27,500. Best known for producing brick cheese and traditional stirred-curd Colby, Widmer’s Cheese Cellars is located in Theresa. It plans to use the funds to develop a new brick curd-cutting device and develop new cheese packaging. Widmer’s also will use the grant funds to add increased automation in the company’s current brick-cheesemaking process.
Sassy Cow Creamery
received $20,000. Located near Columbus, milk for Sassy Cow Creamery is supplied from rBGH-free organic and traditional dairy herds owned and operated by the family-owned business. Sassy Cow Creamery produces both organic and traditional milk and cream as well as ice cream products. Grant funds are earmarked for a project designed to explore bulk packaging for selling milk to schools.
Chalet Cheese Cooperative
received $20,000. Monroe-based Chalet Cheese Cooperative was founded in 1885 by five dairy farmers. It continues to flourish as a cooperative now owned and operated by 21 members who are the sole suppliers of the milk. Chalet specializes in Limburger, brick, Baby Swiss and Swiss, and their smoked versions. Grant monies will be used to develop a new technique to create 2-pound wheels of Baby Swiss, a technique which could spread to other types of cheese.
Specialty Cheese Company Inc.
received $15,000. Specializing in ethnic cheeses from around the world, Reeseville-based Specialty Cheese Company plans to use the grant funds for a facility-modernization project enabling automated production of paneer cheese. Monies will be budgeted for engineering design of the layout of the new automated equipment in the plant.
Westby Cooperative Creamery
received $15,000. Owned by more than 200 farmers, Westby Cooperative Creamery has been producing cultured dairy-food products and hard cheeses for more than 115 years. Westby will use the funds for a pilot bulk-yogurt dispensary project in schools, a project which has potential for other institutional buyers.
Rosewood Dairy Inc.
received $15,000. Located near Algoma, Rosewood Dairy will utilize the grant funds for a renovation project at their existing cheesemaking plant. The project will allow for cheese to be cut and stored in the plant, work currently performed at other facilities about 15 miles away. The expansion also will allow for developing additional lines of string cheese and a new Brie line.
Eckerman Sheep Company and Phlox Farms
received $11,931. The Antigo-based company will use the funds for advertising and promotional materials designed to educate the public at trade shows and farmers markets about sheep cheeses.
Bifrost Farms Creamery LLC
received $5,000. A small farmstead goat-cheese maker, Boyceville-based Bifrost Farms Creamery will use the funds for a facility-modernization and -expansion project designed to expand production capacity, including adding two aged cheeses to the creamery’s current fresh cheese products.
A total of $200,000 was available for the 2019 Dairy Processor Grants, with a maximum $50,000 allowed for each project. Grant recipients are required to provide a match of at least 20 percent of the grant amount. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection received 14 grant requests totaling about $350,000. Through a competitive review process, 10 dairy processors were selected to receive a total of $200,000. Visit datcp.wi.gov for more information.