Groundbreaking held for expanded cheese plant in Brodhead

BRODHEAD, Wis. — Decatur Dairy in Brodhead and members of the Decatur Swiss Cheese Company Cooperative officially broke ground Tuesday on a $6 million cheese plant addition.

The plant on County Highway F produces cheese using milk from more than 70 cooperative members throughout Green, Rock and Lafayette counties. The expansion will add packaging, curing and warehousing capacity.

The expansion is, “the most exciting, not only for our current needs but for the future in this ever-changing dairy industry we’re facing today,” Steve Carpenter, the president of the Decatur Swiss Cheese Company Cooperative, said.

Coinciding with the expansion is a change to the dairy’s business structure. The co-op used to own the land and building, while the dairy owned the equipment and handled the marketing. Carpenter said.

Now, a new company — Decatur Cheese Plant, LLC, a 50-50 venture between the dairy and the co-op — will own the building and the land and handle the upkeep. The dairy will continue to handle marketing and will own the equipment, and the co-op members have secured a 20-year agreement for their milk to go to the plant.

“What started as a simple storage shed has turned into a much more complex project that will help (give) Decatur Dairy and the future generations, along with the farmers and our future generations, an opportunity to stay competitive and successful in this dairy industry,” Carpenter said.

The expansion was made possible in part by a recent grant for dairy processors from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.