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From Nevada to China

Fredric Ridenour Published on 30 June 2014

DFA milk powder plant

On a warm, clear day in Fallon, Nevada, recently, members of the press were treated to a tour of the new Dairy Farmers of America milk processing plant.

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Built on almost 32 acres, the plant began operation on April 5, 2014, and is currently processing an average of 1.5 million pounds of raw milk per day, though it is equipped to process two million pounds of raw milk daily.

Employing 45 people, the new plant can process a full range of milk powders, including whole milk powder, fortified nutritional powders and skim milk powder. According to DFA, the plant at full capacity can produce approximately 250,000 pounds of whole milk powder daily.

Glenn Wallace, the co-op’s chief operating officer, spoke about the uniqueness of the plant. “We have an indirect burner, so that means we’ll have a low-nitrate, low-nitrite product coming out of the plant,” he said.

bag of powdered milk “There’s a lot of systems in place that allow us to manage the cleaning of the plant on a consistent basis. This allows us to have a low spore count in the product. The quality of the product coming out of this plant is the best you’re going to find.”

Wallace said their gas packaging is unique in the U.S. and gives the product being produced a two-year shelf life.

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Senior vice president of strategy and global development, Jay Waldvogel, addressed the distinctive development and design of the facility. “The key thing with this plant is that we didn’t start with the milk supply and say, ‘What do we do with this milk?’” Waldvogel said.

“We started with the approach of ‘Where are the opportunities in the market? Where are the consumers that want dairy products and how can we connect those consumers back with our farmers?’

worker cleaning milk truck “There is explosive growth in the emerging markets, particularly across all of Asia, but mostly in China,” Waldvogel added. “We wanted to find a way to connect China’s desire to consume dairy with our guys’ ability to produce it. Putting those two together resulted in the Fallon plant.”

There are 19 northern Nevada dairies currently supplying milk to the new facility, but that only supplies half of the milk the plant is processing. The rest is coming from California. Before DFA opened this plant, the northern Nevada dairies were shipping their milk mainly to California.

“DFA is pursuing a wide range of markets throughout the world,” Waldvogel said. “This plant in its start-up phase is very focused on the Chinese market, but over the long term, it will be able to turn some of its focus on domestic customers and other high-value markets. What we’re producing is nutrition for consumers around the world.” PD

PHOTOS
TOP : Built on almost 32 acres, the plant began operation on April 5, 2014.

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MIDDLE: The whole milk powder has a shelf life of two years because of gas packaging.

BOTTOM: Milk receiver Anthony Vazquez washes down an incoming milk tanker prior to testing it for antibiotics and acidity. Photos courtesy of DFA.

fredric ridenour

Fredric Ridenour
Progressive Dairyman

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