State Supports Dairy Expansion With $4.5M

The state will be supporting the expansion of Agropur Dairy Cooperative in Little Chute with up to $4.5 million in business tax credits from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. based on meeting hiring and capital expenditure goals.

Agropur, one of the world’s largest dairy suppliers, will be building a new $168 million cheese factory in Little Chute. According to an announcement from Gov. Tony Evers, the investment will set the company up for future success in Wisconsin by investing in the latest cheesemaking technology and making room for growth.

“Wisconsin is uniquely positioned to help Agropur develop new products and succeed in the dairy industry,” says WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes. “In turn, Agropur invests in our dairy farms, pays family-sustaining wages and through the company’s charity work helps ensure access to healthy food for our communities.”

Agropur is the largest dairy cooperative in North America and one of the top 20 dairy producers in the world. In Wisconsin, Agropur operates facilities in La Crosse, Appleton, Little Chute, Weyauwega and Luxemburg, employing about 850 employees. With this project, the cooperative anticipates spending nearly $60 million more a year on milk from Wisconsin farms and creating at least 54 new full-time jobs. 

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

The new Agropur cheesemaking facility is under construction on 24.5 acres in the village of Little Chute. The 210,000-square-foot facility will allow Agropur to increase its production and make future expansions in Little Chute possible. The facility’s milk processing would more than double from 300 million pounds a year to 750 million pounds with about 85 percent of that milk coming from within 40 miles of the plant. 

The announcement was made at Steffens Dairy Farm, an Agropur supplier near Seymour. The farm is run by Lorraine Steffens and her sons, Steve and Dan. The family, which has owned the farm since 1971, milks 130 cows on about 300 acres. Lorraine Steffens says the expansion is a promise to farmers that their milk has a place to go.