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The State of Wisconsin will be supporting the expansion of Agropur Dairy Cooperative in Little Chute, Wisconsin, with as much as $4.5 million in business tax credits in the next four years. Agropur will be building a new $168 million cheese factory, which is expected to position the cooperative for future success. Agropur will be eligible for the business tax credits based on meeting hiring and capital-expenditure goals.

“From our farmers and cheesemakers, and folks in the dairy-supply chain, to the workers who will help build the factory to cheese consumers everywhere, the investment will be felt far beyond the farm,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said. “We’re thrilled to support Agropur's investment in America's Dairyland and in the future of the dairy industry.”

Agropur is considered to be North America's largest dairy cooperative and is one of the world’s top-20 dairy producers. In Wisconsin the cooperative operates facilities in La Crosse, Appleton, Little Chute, Weyauwega and Luxemburg. It employs about 850 people. With the project, Agropur anticipates spending about $60 million more per year on milk from Wisconsin farms as well as creating at least 54 new full-time jobs.

Evers made the announcement at Steffens Dairy Farm near Seymour, Wisconsin. He was joined by Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, as well as Randy Romanski, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

“Agropur invests in our dairy farms and pays family-sustaining wages,” Hughes said. “And through its charity work Agropur helps ensure access to healthy food for our communities.”

Romanski said Wisconsin has about 6,700 dairy farms; the dairy industry annually contributes more than $45 billion to the state’s economy.

“But dairy farming is a tough business,” he said. “For producers in this part of Wisconsin, Agropur’s expansion can be a needed boost.”

The new 210,000-square-foot facility is being built on 24.5 acres in the village of Little Chute. The facility’s milk processing would more than double from 300 million pounds per year to 750 million pounds. About 85 percent of that milk would come from within 40 miles of the plant, according to the governor’s office.

“Having a new state-of-the-art facility will help us to solidify our leadership position in the dairy industry,” said Doug Simon, Agropur’s president of U.S. operations. “Beyond speed and efficiency, the process and equipment will provide greater flexibility. It also will allow Agropur to offer a broader line of products to meet our customers’ needs.”

Steffens Dairy Farm, an Agropur supplier, is operated by Lorraine Steffens and her sons, Steve Steffens and Dan Steffens. The family milks 130 cows.

“This expansion is a promise to farmers that we’re going to be here, and you’ll have a place for your milk to go,” Lorraine Steffens said.

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