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April 18, 2013 8:02 am

EDITORIAL: Dairy development

Written by Tessa Schweigert

Local processing plant a promising possibility

Park County’s answer to the “Got milk?” question is a simple yes. And we’d like to keep it here.

Currently, milk produced in Wyoming is sent out of state to be processed, often hundreds of miles away. In the future, a local plant may keep the milk here, using the raw product to create cheese, yogurt, ice cream and butter.

George Farms, a dairy deeply-rooted in the Heart Mountain area, is proceeding with plans to build a local milk processing plant.

The promising venture received a green light from the State Loan and Investment Board last week when state leaders awarded $25,000 toward a study to analyze whether a processing plant is a feasible business for the area. While the plan must clear a number of hurdles in the coming year, it’s an exciting possibility for Park County and Wyoming.

“We’re a little isolated up here, and there are no processing plants in existence in the state of Wyoming today, so we see this as a possible opportunity to explore,” said Arley George, whose family has operated the dairy since 1951.

While strengthening an established family business, the processing plant also could create a number of new jobs. As we’ve seen time and again, thriving agricultural businesses contribute to the health of our local economy as a whole.

The local food movement continues to grow across America, and we expect consumers around the region would welcome locally-produced dairy products.

“It seems that the public is clamoring for local products, and it makes sense to look for ways to add value to existing commodities that will meet the local (and beyond) demand,” said a statement from Leah Bruscino of Powell, Northwest Region director for the Wyoming Business Council.

The idea of local cheese in Park County isn’t a foreign one.

A couple of years ago, one of the nation’s premier cheese-making instructors came to Powell, teaching dairy producers and others how to make a variety of cheeses. The UW Extension offered the course for folks who wanted to enter the cheese business. It now appears that training may be put to good use in Park County.

Over the years, the dairy industry in the region has seen major changes, with many dairy farms ceasing to exist. We’re hopeful that the time is right for this expansion, but also are glad a feasibility study will determine if the area can support a processing plant.

We see great potential.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link April 18, 2013 4:01 pm posted by clipstein

    delusions and more delusions

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