The former Farmers Creamery Cooperative in McMinnville, Ore., will reopen in August as the newest facility operated by the nation’s largest organic dairy cooperative.
The creamery was purchased last fall by Wisconsin-based Organic Valley, which produces organic milk, butter, eggs, cheese, soy and other products. The McMinnville plant will primarily make butter under the Organic Valley label, and is the company’s first brick and mortar facility outside of Wisconsin.
The renovated creamery’s grand opening is Saturday, Aug. 12, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the facility, 700 NE Highway 99W, McMinnville. Company spokeswoman Sasha Bernstein said the public is invited. Shuttles will be provided to take people on tours of dairies that will provide milk to the creamery.
Louise Hemstead, Organic Valley’s chief operating officer in Wisconsin, said the Farmers Cooperative Creamery had long been on the company’s “risk assessment” list. That is, it was an important supplier in the region and Organic Valley would need to buy it if something happened, she said.
Hemstead said Organic Valley spent more than $12 million above the purchase price to renovate the creamery and “bring it around to be a modern facility.”
Among other work, the company rebuilt the dryer that is used to produce skim milk powder, upgraded the electrical system, rebuilt the drains, improved the pasteurizing section and installed a better machine that forms and packages the familiar butter cubes.
The company also pulled out the industrial churn, shipped it back to Wisconsin to be rebuilt and will send it back to McMinnville next week to be reinstalled, Hemstead said.
In addition to butter and skim milk powder, the plant will produce buttermilk powder and a cultured butter that is more of a European type spread. The plant will make trial batches in the first week of August and should be operational in time for the grand opening, Hemstead said.
The renovation and reopening cap a year of changes for the McMinnville creamery. In July 2016, co-op members accepted an agreement that allowed dairy farmers to apply for membership in the much larger Northwest Dairy Association of Seattle, which includes Darigold. The McMinnville plant then was sold to Organic Valley for an undisclosed price, and it is reopening as a strictly organic operation.
The facility will provide 37 jobs and will process milk delivered from 72 member dairies in Oregon and Washington.
Nationally, the Organic Valley cooperative represents more than 1,800 farmers in 36 states and describes saving family farms as its “founding mission.”