25 dairy farmers in Green County, Wisconsin are now looking for a home for their milk.
The Maple Leaf Cheese Cooperative received notification by Maple Leaf Cheesemakers, Inc., their long term partner, that they will no longer make cheese at the cooperative-owned cheese facility in Monroe beginning on
November 20, 2020.
“As a Board, we are disappointed with the short notice, but view this situation as an opportunity”, says Bob Bade, Treasurer and dairy farmer owner. “We’re committed to working diligently to find a new partner to ensure our farmer-owners and other suppliers have a place to sell their milk.” We are looking for future cheesemaking partners committed to farmers and doing business in cheese-famous Green County, Wisconsin.
Twenty-five dairy farmers own the cooperative and cheese plant. The cooperative has been in business since 1910. They’ve worked with the cheesemakers, making cheese under contract with the cooperative since 1982.
“Our board is working hard to help our farmer-owners and other suppliers find a temporary location to sell their milk”, says Bade. “We’re also looking for a new strategic partner who shares our commitment to making
world-class specialty cheeses under a new brand.”
The board regrets the potential negative impacts on the plant’s employees (employees of the cheesemakers), the community and the many supplier partners associated with the cheesemaker’s decision.
The cooperative believes that the plant should remain in farm ownership in order to provide some control over markets for the many small and medium sized farmers in Green and surrounding counties as they face fewer and fewer options to sell their milk.
“We plan to restore the Cooperative’s cheese business to new heights,” says Bade.
The cooperative had been seeking an improved contract with the cheesemakers starting over one year ago but the cheesemakers ended contract negotiations in April early in the pandemic.
Every cooperative farmer-owner has been notified of this contract termination by a board member.
Maple Leaf Cheese Cooperative is a farmer-owned cooperative and cheese plant in Monroe, Wisconsin. The cooperative comprises 25 dairy farmers and has been in business since 1910.