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Though the plant broke ground in February 2004 and has been running since last October, Southwest Cheese Co., LLC (SWC), celebrated its official opening on October 6, 2006. Hailed as one of the largest cheese and whey processing plants in the world, SWC is a joint venture between Glanbia PLC and the Greater Southwest Agency. Glanbia, whose global headquarters are located in Kilkenny, Ireland, handles cheese and whey sales and management of the plant, while the Greater Southwest Agency supplies raw milk through Dairy Farmers of America (DFA); Select Milk Producers, Inc.; LoneStar Milk Producers; and Zia Milk Producers.

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When small-scale Gooding cheesemakers Stacie and Steve Ballard left the American Cheese Society’s July awards ceremony with a first-place ribbon for their Pepper Cheddar and a second-place ribbon for their Idaho Garlic Herb curds, Steve Morgan wasn’t surprised.

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With the World Dairy Expo just a month away, I spent some time with the folks at World Dairy Expo to see what would be happening with this year’s 40th anniversary show. In particular, I was able to ask Tom McKittrick, the expo’s general manager, a few questions about himself and what we can expect this year. The following is a summary of the questions I posed to him.

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First celebrated in 2000, World School Milk Day is an international, annual event held on the last Wednesday in September. Established by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the day provides an opportunity for the international community to focus on the importance of school milk and its health benefits for growing children.

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What will the dairy industry in the Southeast look like in 10 years? What will it look like in five years? I don’t pretend to know, but past history suggests the Southeast will continue to lose cow numbers and milk production. If current trends continue for another 10 years, a few people and a handful of cows may be all that is left. Some believe this has already happened in certain regions. I don’t believe this will happen throughout the Southeast, but trends are trends.

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