Sudden closing of dairy plant forced schools to scramble for new milk provider

2013-01-07T16:00:00Z 2013-01-07T18:16:43Z Sudden closing of dairy plant forced schools to scramble for new milk providerMATTHEW DeFOUR | Wisconsin State Journal | | 608-252-6144

The Madison School District and others around the state were scrambling over the weekend to find another milk provider after the unexpected closing of a Waukesha dairy processing plant.

No districts reported going without milk Monday, but some students may have begun to see different milk cartons because of the Golden Guernsey plant closing Saturday. Madison officials say there will be no long-term disruptions as a result of the closure.

Madison received a Golden Guernsey milk shipment at all but seven schools on Friday, food services director Steve Youngbauer said. When the district learned about the shutdown over the weekend, officials arranged for Prairie Farms Dairy, a cooperative based in Carlinville, Ill., to supply the seven schools, and milk was delivered Monday morning before breakfast.

"Prairie Farms has agreed to provide seamless service to our schools at this time," Youngbauer said. "We are confident that there should be no break in service for our students."

Youngbauer said he doesn't anticipate the switch from Golden Guernsey to Prairie Farms will cost the district more money.

The Milwaukee Public Schools buys from multiple vendors and had to switch 40 schools from Golden Guernsey to Prairie Farms, district spokesman Tony Tagliavia said.

Mapleton Dairy Haulers in Oconomowoc had been delivering Golden Guernsey milk to several school districts in Dane County, including Cambridge, Deerfield, Marshall, McFarland, Monona Grove and Waunakee. It services 360 schools in southeastern Wisconsin, president Lynn Hiemke said.

Hiemke said his company was able to secure milk from Kemps, which is based in St. Paul, Minn., and has five manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

"It is unbelievable how much everyone has gone out of their ways to help us," Hiemke said, adding that Kemps took the unusual step of firing up its machines Sunday to meet demand for milk gallons.

McFarland superintendent Scott Brown said Mapleton "did a great job" in handling the change over the weekend and that it "did not feel like a crisis to us." The district's next delivery is Tuesday morning, but if it had been Monday "there might have been a disruption in the milk supply."

Grocery stores were largely unaffected by the plant closing as they sell other brands of milk and didn't carry Golden Guernsey as their primary product, said Brandon Scholz, president of the Wisconsin Grocers Association.

At Copps and Pick n' Save stores, the closing of the dairy was expected to have little impact, according to Vivian King, a spokeswoman for Roundy's, a Milwaukee company that owns Copps and Pick'n Save. She said 34 of the company's stores carry Golden Guernsey milk, yogurt, sour cream and other products but other vendors like Kemps and Dean are helping to fill the void.

"We think Kemps and Dean will be able to step up and provide those products," King said.

The Golden Guernsey plant had been under the ownership of a Los Angeles private equity firm since last year. Open Gate Capital bought the operation from Dallas-based Dean Foods, which was required to sell it to satisfy federal antitrust concerns.

A Department of Workforce Development spokesman said state officials were not notified of the closure, which is required by law. Spokesman John Dipko said the state has been trying to contact Open Gate to discuss the closure and insure the rights of about 100 employees are protected under state law.

— State Journal reporter Barry Adams contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(6) Comments

  1. Mr Mellow
    Report Abuse
    Mr Mellow - January 07, 2013 11:00 pm
    Reread your post. Then turn in your Liberal card (if you ever had one).
  2. Mr Mellow
    Report Abuse
    Mr Mellow - January 07, 2013 10:59 pm
    Another 100 Wisconsin jobs, flushed down the drain.

    Maybe some of that WEDC money Walker's handpicked cronies lost could've saved them.

    Hey Scottie, it's about jobs, stupid. You are such a failure.
  3. 53703
    Report Abuse
    53703 - January 07, 2013 8:16 pm
    My comment was in relation to the picture that went with the original version of the story, which has now been changed. The caption described a little girl drinking chocolate milk on the first day of Madison's new after-school dinner program. Unfortunately, my comment makes no sense now that the picture was changed, but I stand by the sentiment.
  4. aspyder
    Report Abuse
    aspyder - January 07, 2013 4:46 pm
    At least feds made sure that this dairy plant wasn't a monopoly anymore.
  5. soc
    Report Abuse
    soc - January 07, 2013 3:48 pm
    I'm a little confused as to what 53703 thinks this story has to do with free meals for students and MacDonalds and Planned Parenthood. This is about a milk plant shutting down and milk that is part of the student's meal plan at schools and/or supplied in vending machines (that the majority of parents pay for). Maybe 53703 needs to go back to school so he/she can recognize the content of a story and learn to comment on that instead of blowing out content that is unrelated.
  6. 53703
    Report Abuse
    53703 - January 07, 2013 1:24 pm
    On the one hand, I guess I'm glad children eligible for free meals are getting things like this for dinner instead of their parents feeding them at McDonald's. On the other hand, even as a super liberal, at some point I'm a little dismayed at having to feed other people's children three squares a day, subsidize their housing, and so on.

    Thanks for reminding me to write a check to Planned Parenthood. Why every mother getting public assistance isn't given free Depo Provera shots courtesy of Uncle Sam is just beyond me. I'll be quite happy to subsidize that.

We provide a valuable forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on posted articles. But there are rules: Don't promote products or services, impersonate other site users, register multiple accounts, threaten or harass others, post vulgar, abusive, obscene or sexually oriented language. Don't post content that defames or degrades anyone. Don't repost copyrighted material; link to it. In other words, stick to the topic and play nice. Report abuses by clicking the button. Users who break the rules will be banned from commenting. We no longer issue warnings.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

What's hot

Featured businesses

Get weekly ads via e-mail