An $8.7 million investment in its local operations will allow Prairie Farms Dairy to add jobs, specialty products to its portfolio and increasing opportunities for the Hoosier dairy industry.The farmer-owned cooperative headquartered in Carlinville, Illinois, will build and equip a 22,500-square-foot addition to its existing production facility at 3400 Lima Road, which currently produces fluid milk, ice cream mix, specialty drinks, cottage cheese, sour cream and dips. The company will add new processing tanks and systems, production equipment, packaging lines, a cooler and a dry storage warehouse in order to accelerate growth through production of value-added products for retail and food service customers, and to grow their business as an ingredient supplier to other manufacturing companies.
Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Ted McKinney said the state’s dairy strategy is working, “One of our top goals when we launched the dairy strategy was to add value to Indiana’s dairy products by increasing our state’s processing capacity. By expanding their operation, Prairie Farms’ announcement confirms our strategy is working and continues to pay off in Indiana. I applaud their decision and look forward to the growth opportunities this will create for Indiana’s dairy farmers.”
“Prairie Farms has been a part of the Fort Wayne community for 23 years, and we are looking forward to many more,” said Chuck McQuaig, Fort Wayne general manager for Prairie Farms. “We currently employ 117 people, and through this expansion, we are pleased to offer more local jobs. Along with the expansion comes a bigger distribution footprint for us. Once complete, we will ship more Prairie Farms products from coast to coast and to Central America.”Construction of the expansion is expected to begin in April and be complete within 18 months. As part of its growth, Prairie Farms plans to create eight new jobs in Indiana by 2020.
“Indiana’s agriculture industry contributes $31 billion to the state’s economy and supports more than 100,000 Hoosier jobs,” said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger. “We are proud that Prairie Farms is choosing to grow in Indiana, and we look forward to our continued partnership as we work to create new jobs and support Indiana farmers.”With more than 1,100 Hoosier dairies, Indiana produced more than 4 billion pounds of milk last year, but approximately 4 million pounds of raw milk are exported each day. Increased opportunities to keep more Hoosier-grown milk in Indiana, such as the growth of Prairie Farms’ production, will help local farmers save on transportation and related costs, officials say.