Janklow welcomes Lake Norden project’s start

Janklow welcomes Lake Norden project's start Davisco Foods International broke ground for a new $40 million mozzarella cheese plant at Lake Norden on Aug. 27, a development that Gov. Bill Janklow praised as "welcome news" for agricultural producers in eastern South Dakota.

Construction on the new plant will take approximately 15 to 18 months to complete. The site is adjacent to the food ingredient plant that Davisco Foods has operated at Lake Norden for 19 years.

"This plant is the largest single, free-enterprise investment in the history of South Dakota," Janklow said. "Add to that the investment in dairy production facilities, cows, support services and the investment figures become even more phenomenal," he concluded.

The new dairy plant will initially support the milk production from 30,000 cows and eventually will expand to require the milk production from 75,000 cows.

Land O' Lakes will market the cheese produced at the new plant and will partner with Davisco Foods in milk procurement for the plant. Davisco plans to create 60 additional jobs at the new cheese plant, secure the 90 existing jobs and dramatically increase the market for milk produced by area farmers by as much as five million pounds of milk per day.

"This is a major investment for us at Davisco that represents an expanded partnership between the State of South Dakota, Lake Norden, Davisco, Land O' Lakes and area milk producers," Mark Davis, chief executive officer of Davisco Foods International, said. "The new Lake Norden facility will give area farmers a steady and reliable market for milk and make it possible for Davisco to increase its overall cheese production capabilities. We also intend to process the whey produced at the new cheese plant at our adjacent food ingredient plant to make our specialty whey protein isolates. We are very excited to move forward together with this innovative project.

"It has been a very involved process, and we have worked closely with state and local governments to get to the point of this groundbreaking," Davis said. "What we have all learned is that this is a very large project for a very small town. Creating the necessary infrastructure and planning properly for the utilities was a challenge, and we wanted to do it right. We believe that the time we took with respect to the planning has paid off, and will result in an environmentally friendly dairy plant that will be second to none."

Davisco Foods International is a privately held, family owned, dairy business headquartered in Le Sueur, MN. Operating five dairy processing plants (cheese, whey and other dairy-based food ingredients) in South Dakota, Minnesota and Idaho, Davisco produces more than 600,000 pounds of cheese daily and is one of the largest suppliers of cheese to Kraft Foods.

Land O' Lakes is a national, farmer-owned food and agricultural cooperative, with sales approaching $7 billion. Land O' Lakes does business in all 50 states and more than 50 countries. It is a leading marketer of a full line of dairy-based consumer, food service and food ingredient products across the United States. It services its international customers with a variety of food and animal feed ingredients. It provides farmers and local cooperatives with agricultural supplies and services.

"This project and the Land O' Lakes/Davisco business alliance that helped make it possible reflect our two organizations' shared commitment to the long-term success of the Upper Midwest dairy industry," Land O' Lakes president and chief executive officer Jack Gherty said. "In today's highly competitive dairy industry environment, size, scale and operating efficiency are critical to success. The new plant and our supply and marketing agreement address all three of those issues."

Jon Davis, general manager of Davisco Cheese Operations, said dairy farmers should come to eastern South Dakota if they want to grow their business for them and their families. "You will not find an area of the country better suited to dairy success: a reliable market and a farm-friendly state with an opportunity to build a community with an agriculture infrastructure geared toward cows. South Dakota wants you, your family and your cows," Davis said.

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