A 25-year-old effort finally paid off on Thursday when Dairy Farmers of America officially announced plans to build a dairy ingredients plant in Garden City, Kansas.
Gov. Sam Brownback and other state officials were on hand for a ceremonial groundbreaking at the 156-acre site, joining city officials and area dairy farmers in turning the first shovels of dirt.
"This is truly the realization of a 25-year-dream," Brownback said of the groundbreaking at an earlier ceremony Thursday morning at the 3i Show in Dodge City. "It is a credit to the people of southwest Kansas and their persistence and hard work."
The 214,000-square-foot plant will produce whole, skim and nonfat dry milk powder, as well as cream, and is a partnership between DFA and 12 of its member farms in Southwest Kansas. It is scheduled to be in operation by the end of 2017.
Once complete, the plant will receive 4 million pounds of milk a day from regional dairy farms. This will help support the industry’s continued growth in Southwest Kansas and will meet the rising demand for U.S. dairy both domestically and globally.
“We are excited to have this plant located in Garden City,” said Michael Lichte, vice president for dairy marketing and business planning at DFA. “The construction of this plant not only fits with our global ingredients strategy, but also provides a local home for DFA members’ milk in the Southwest region, which was much needed as many local farms were sending their milk to other areas of the country.”
“Kansas has always been a key player in dairy and agriculture as a whole,” said Gov. Brownback. “With this new plant, we are literally breaking new ground for our state and strengthening Kansas’ footprint on a global scale, which is truly exciting.”
Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey, who attended the ceremony with the state delegation, said Kansas is one of the fastest growing regions for dairy production in the U.S., growing 7.5% in 2014 alone and more than doubling in the last 20 years.
"We ae proud to welcome DFA to Kansas and we are confident this milk processing plant will make Kansas even more attractive to dairies looking to grow or relocate," McClaskey said,
Since 2010, total milk output in Kansas has increased 24%. In 2014, the approximately 143,000 dairy cows in Kansaas produced 3.1 billion pounds of milk, valued at $746.6 million. In 2013, the dairy industry in Kansas supported more than 5,800 jobs and contributed $1.2 billion to the economy.
The Garden City plant is expected to add about 60 jobs to the region.